You may have heard someone refer to making a “Joint Will”, whilst this is possible in many other spheres, in Law there is no such thing.
A Will is a legal document that applies to a single person. In many cases what the person is actually referring to is either a Mirror or a Mutual Will.
Our Inheritance Disputes Solicitor, Sharon Bell, explains the differences between Mirror Wills and Mutual Wills.
Many spouses and partners make Mirror Wills, appointing the same executors, having the same beneficiaries and dividing their estate in the same way. They are in effect mirror reflections of each other. Whilst the parties to the Mirror Wills may agree to make Mirror Wills there is nothing to stop them making a Will at a later stage, thereby revoking their earlier Will.
Mirror Wills are often confused with Mutual Wills because on the face of it the provisions will also “mirror” each other.
However, the following key differences are:
- A Mutual Will is a binding contractual agreement, whereas a Mirror Will is not.
- A Mutual Will cannot be revoked or varied without the consent of the other party. They can only be rescinded by either party giving notice during their joint lifetime.
- To be enforceable there must be clear evidence of an agreement to create the Mutual Wills and an intention that they are to be irrevocable.
- If one party dies the survivor cannot change their Will as they would be in breach of contract and may be found to have committed a fraud. If a person wishes to change a Mutual Will he/she can make an application to revoke the Mutual Will but the Court will impose a Mutual Wills Trust (“the Trust”) over the assets that were in the Will to prevent any loss to the intended beneficiaries under the Mutual Will.
- If the survivor was to remarry then statute will automatically revoke the Mutual Will but the assets in the Mutual Will will be protected by a Trust and will override any new Will.
The law does not specify how the Mutual Wills Trust operates and there is therefore potential for lengthy and costly litigation. Claimants should instruct specialists in inheritance disputes to avoid unnecessary delay or expense.
We Can Help;
If you believe that you have a dispute regarding a Mutual Will, feel you have been disinherited from a Will, or if you wish to make a Mirror or Mutual Will call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at email@example.com