Mutual Wills, Joint Wills, & Mirror Wills
Mutual wills are usually created by married couples, or couples in an adult interdependent relationship (previously called common law). Mutual wills are based on the agreement of both partners that the surviving partner won’t change his or her will after the other dies.
For a mutual will to be valid, both parties must have clear intent to create the same will, agree to the same distribution of their mutual assets, and agree not to revoke the wills.
A mutual will may be useful in blended-family situations to ensure that children from different marriages are treated the same way, and will continue to be treated the same way after the death of one of the parties.
Joint wills have the same requirements as mutual wills. But with a joint will, there is only one will signed by both parties, whereas mutual wills are separate documents. A joint will makes a stronger case that both parties clearly intended to create exactly the same will.
Mirror wills are similar to mutual wills. Each partner agrees to distribute his or her estate, except for specific gifts, to the surviving partner. When the surviving partner dies, or if both partners die at the same time, the estate will go to their children in equal shares or, if there are no children, to other beneficiaries in equal shares.
With mirror wills, the partners acknowledge that the surviving partner has the right to change his or her will.
The prices on our Fee Schedule are for preparing simple mirror wills for couples. Once we have a clearer picture of your unique situation, we can provide a firm quote.
The Bottom Line
We do not recommend mutual wills or joint wills because, if they meet the requirements of clear intent and agreement, they are very difficult to change after the death of one of the partners. This means that if your spouse/partner dies and you change your mind about what to do with your estate, you may not be able to make the changes you want.