What are mutual wills? And what should I do if a mutual will dispute arises?
The courts have recently revisited the often controversial area of mutual wills. But what actually are mutual wills? We review the principles that are generally applicable to them.
There is a great deal of misunderstanding about what constitutes a mutual will. They are often confused with mirror wills, but the two concepts are quite different. For a will to be considered a mutual will a number of legal requirements must be satisfied. The key distinguishing features include the following:
- Mutual wills are made by two (or more) people. They are usually drafted in similar terms and they confer reciprocal benefits;
- Mutual wills are made pursuant to an agreement between the parties to make wills in those terms and, crucially, not to revoke them without everyone’s agreement;
- The agreement to make mutual wills must amount to a contractual relationship that those wills shall be irrevocable. It is not enough simply for there to be a desire or an expectation of such, or even a common intention;
- They should not be confused with mirror wills. Execution of mirror wills does not imply an agreement for mutual wills;
- It is not a legal requirement that the second testator obtains a personal benefit under the will of the other testator;
- The agreement can apply to part only of the residuary estate and be written or oral; and
- The existence of the agreement must be evidenced clearly and satisfactorily.
If a dispute arises in connection with a mutual will then it is important to seek specialist legal advice as the law governing this area is highly technical. We deal with mutual will disputes on a national basis and can often work under a no win, no fee agreement.
We offer free initial guidance on mutual will disputes and contested Will cases. Give us a call on 0333 888 0404 or send us an email at [email protected]