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What are Mutual or Reciprocal Wills?

Mutual wills are separate wills of two or more parties that are reciprocal in the benefit. When parties make mutual wills they are agreeing that following the death of one of the parties, the surviving party will distribute certain property (real or personal) based on the prior agreement. Mutual wills are different from a joint will because in a joint will both parties sign a single document.

Mutual wills are common between spouses. Thus, if either spouse dies, the property will be distributed according to their prior agreement in the mutual wills. For example, spouses may use mutual wills to ensure that the family home will only be passed to their children.

Some complications arise regarding whether mutual wills can be amended or revoked after one party dies. Some jurisdictions allow mutual wills to be revoked if the changes reflect the intent of the parties. Thus, it may be necessary to consult a lawyer regarding the consequences of entering into a mutual will in your jurisdiction.