Types of Wills … Let’s Break it down

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Over the next few blogs we will endeavour to shed some light on the different types of Will options available in a bid to help you decide which works best for you.
A good place to start is with couples Wills, of which there are three different types, all quite similar to each other. Joint Wills, Mutual Wills and Mirror Wills

A Joint Will is a single document that two people or more agree to draw up which generally relates to sharing their property in a particular way.

This kind of Will is particularly common amongst married couples.
These Wills are normally identical or very similar and give common benefits. They tend to dictate that the surviving spouse should inherit all their property if they die first and vice versa. After the death of the second spouse, the property is shared as specified in the document. The law treats a Joint Will as being two or more separate Wills.

Mutual Wills on the other hand occur where two or more testators make separate Wills or make a joint Will and in doing so agree to confer on each other reciprocal benefits or agree to confer benefits on the same beneficiaries.

These kind of Wills have four basic requirements and a strict standard for enforceability:

1.      The agreement must be made in a particular form.
2.      The agreement must be contractual in effect.
3.      The agreement must be intended to be irrevocable.
4.      The surviving party must have intended the will to reflect the agreement.

A Mutual Will creates a binding agreement between the two parties which prevents the survivor from changing their Will and disposing of the estate in a different way. Mutual Wills are preferred by couples in a second marriage with children from a previous relationship or marriage.

Mirror Wills are exactly that, they “mirror” each other. The terms generally are similar and complementary. This is a legal document that allows a couple (married, civil partners or unmarried) to write down their wishes for when they pass away.

In all three cases these types of Wills are convenient and cost effective and they ensure that spouses are well taken care of if one dies and that the estate is passed to his children at death.

 

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One thought on “Types of Wills … Let’s Break it down

  1. From the UK law perspective (England and Wales), I’d say that the most common type recommended is mirror wills. The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners does not recommend mutual wills per se – and it would seem that they can lead to more misunderstandings (lets just say personal heartache and legal costs) http://www.step.org/mutual-wills-%E2%80%93-importance-doctrine and http://www.step.org/mutual-wills-mud-thickens. The Law Society lists a course talking about the perils of mutual wills here http://cpdcentre.lawsociety.org.uk/course/4096/mutual-wills-a-nightmare-for-the-unwitting – you will see therefore that it is a bold step for a solicitor to recommend mutual wills.

    Liked by 1 person

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