What are mutual wills? And what to do when a mutual will dispute arises.
The courts have recently revisited the often controversial and misunderstood area of mutual will. But what are mutual wills? We review the principles that are generally applicable to them:-
- 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 will disputes on a national basis and can often work on a no win, no fee basis.