What is a mutual will?
A mutual will is where two or more persons each agree to execute a separate will disposing of their property in a certain way.
Why it is important to make a will
A will details who shall benefit from your possessions and your estate (property) following your death.
These are some of the reasons why it is beneficial to make a will:
- You can decide how all of your assets are shared out – if you do not have a will (known as being in-testate) the law decided who gets what
- If you are an unmarried couple, you can ensure the other is provided for after death
- If you are divorced you can choose whether to leave anything to your former partner or not
- You can make sure that you do not pay more Inheritance Tax than is necessary
Married couples often make wills in substantially similar terms, they agree to leave their property to each other, but on the second death the property generally goes to their children (or otherwise as agreed)
The making of a mutual will
Each will has terms that are usually very identical or similar and confer reciprocal benefits – an example of this would be a husband, wife or civil partner may leave their property to each other with the same provision should the other predecease.
This in itself however is not enough to constitute making a mutual will. An arrangement or agreement to make such wills and not to revoke them without the consent of the other (s) must exist.
Mutual wills are usually made by spouses or civil partners to put in to effect any agreements between them that, in the event of their deaths, they shall each leave their property perhaps to any children of the marriage.
A mutual will can be executed by two or more persons.
Things to include in a mutual will
It is important to think about what you both wish to include in the mutual will prior to the creation of the wills, it is usually a good idea to consult a solicitor before you begin the writing of the wills.
You will need to consider:
- What property and possessions you both have (or how much property etc everybody in the mutual will has)
- What money you have
- Who you would like to benefit from the mutual wills
- Who should look after any children under the age of 18
- Who is going to sort out your estate and carry out your wishes after your death – known as your executor
Keeping your mutual will up-to-date
It is important to review your will every five years and after any significant major changes in your life such as getting married or divorced, having a child or buying a new house. Any changes to your will must be made by “codicil” which means an addition, amendment or supplement to your existing will, or by making a new will.