The similarities of mirror wills and mutual wills
Both mirror Wills and mutual Wills provide for two testators to leave their property in the same or similar ways. The legal effect is however very different.
A mirror Will can be amended or revoked by either testator at any time.
Mutual Wills on the other hand are made on the understanding that, on the death of the first testator, the surviving testator will not make a new Will changing the beneficiaries.
Mutual Wills impose a constructive trust on the last testator to die in order to prevent him or her from making a new Will breaking the agreed provisions. If the surviving testator seeks to make a new Will after the death of the first testator, equity imposes a constructive trust on the Personal Representatives of the first testator’s estate to give effect to the terms of the mutual Will.
In order to enforce a mutual Will there must be clear evidence on the balance of probabilities that there has been agreement between the two testators to dispose of their property in a similar way in mutual Wills.
The property covered by the mutual Will is generally considered to be the property inherited by the second testator to die from the first, although a number of uncertainties have arisen in case law.
Why make a mutual Will?
Mutual Wills can be useful where a couple are agreed that their property should be distributed in a particular way and are happy to waive their right to change those plans after the first death. However the law relating to mutual Wills is complex and mutual Wills are often the source of controversy, dispute and on occasions, litigation.
If you are involved in a mutual will dispute or wish to bring a legal claim then call our FREE legal helpline on 0808 139 1599 or email inheritance dispute solicitor Lee Dawkins at [email protected]