mutual wills


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mutual wills

n. wills made by two people (usually spouses, but could be "partners") in which each gives his/her estate to the other, or with dispositions they both agree upon. A later change by either party is valid unless it can be proved that there was a contract in which each made his/her will in the consideration for the other person making his/her will as written. (See: mirror wills)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

mutual wills

wills made by two persons who, in pursuance of an antecedent agreement, leave their estates reciprocally to the survivor. In English law, either will may be revoked during the joint lifetimes of the testators, but equity will specifically enforce the mutual wills agreement (thereby effectively making revocation by the survivor impossible) after the death of one of the parties.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
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If you want to limit this aspect of marriage you could draw up a prenuptial agreement which should be signed at least 21 days prior to the marriage, or sign mutual wills which will bind the survivor to divide the estate as previously agreed.
In this respect, an agreement must be made between the spouses expressed in the wills that they have agreed to execute mutual wills as well as that they have agreed not to revoke them during their lifetime nor the surviving spouse after the death of the other.
Denny's son took the matter to the Court of Appeal who found that Laura and Denny's agreement made their wills Mutual Wills and it would be unfair to allow Laura to change her will after Denny's death.
In 2003, three years after the mutual wills were executed, Robert died.
The doctrine of mutual wills also operates in support of contracts for the benefit of third parties.
Particular issues for seniors include reviewing a will regularly to ensure beneficiaries still survive, exploring options for trusts for grandchildren, and properly managing later life relationships: life estates and mutual wills may be appropriate options.
The court distinguished this situation from a joint representation involving multiple estate planning clients, because it did not involve "mutual wills prepared by the attorney." The court found no conflict of interest, stating that "a lawyer who prepares a will owes no duty to any previous beneficiary, even a beneficiary he may be representing in another matter, to oppose the testator or testatrix in changing his or her will and, therefore, that assisting in that change is not a conflict of interest." The dissent pointed out Florida Ethics Opinion 95-4, finding that the representation of both mother and daughter in various business transactions as well as estate planning created a conflict when the mother decided to change her w ill.
The elderly couple had made mutual wills appointing the other as sole executor to their assets.
A To be absolutely sure I would have to look at the terms of the will to ensure that they were not both made as "mutual wills" which bind both parents even after the first has died.
[It has been more than 200 years since the leading case on mutual wills was handed down in Dufour v Pereira.
They executed mutual wills, both of which provided that, if a disclaimer was made by the decedent, the disclaimed portion of the estate would go into a trust.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals held that Helen's second will was valid, because the mutual will placed no contractual obligation on her to refrain from executing a new will; see Est.