Mutual Will: Its Definition and Estate Planning


Key Takeaway:

  • Mutual Wills are a legal agreement between two parties, typically spouses, where they agree to leave their assets to each other in the event of their death. This is a binding contract that cannot be changed after the first person dies without the consent of the other party.
  • The advantages of a Mutual Will include certainty and security for both parties, as well as the ability to control the distribution of assets after both parties have passed away. However, there are also disadvantages, such as limited flexibility and the potential for complicated legal disputes.
  • Mutual Wills can be an important tool in trust and estate planning, particularly for couples seeking to ensure the financial security of their surviving spouse and their heirs. It is important to consult with a qualified estate planner or attorney to determine whether a Mutual Will is the right option for your specific needs and goals.

You've heard the term "mutual will" but unsure of what it means? Planning your estate and understanding the implications of mutual wills is a critical step for your trust and estate planning. Here, we will explore the definition and purpose of mutual wills.

Definition of Mutual Wills

Mutual Will refers to an arrangement where two or more individuals, usually couples, create wills that mirror each other's terms. In the event of one partner's death, the surviving partner inherits the assets, and after the death of both, the assets are distributed among their chosen beneficiaries. This legal document ensures that the desired transfer of assets takes place according to the deceased person's wishes and protects them from future changes.

Mutual Wills are legally binding and usually drafted by estate planning attorneys. They are useful for those who wish to protect their assets, beneficiaries and maintain control over them after their death. Despite being a common practice among elderly people, it can be applied at any stage of life.

It is important to note that mutual wills are irrevocable after the death of one of the parties, meaning changes cannot be made. To ensure this setup is the best option for you, it is imperative to seek legal advice from a qualified attorney.

Consider mutual wills if you are seeking to protect your assets and maintain control over them beyond your lifetime. Don't leave your assets in the hands of fate or legal structures beyond your control. Plan now to secure your future and the future of those you love.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Mutual Wills

In the realm of estate planning, mutual wills can provide benefits and drawbacks. Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons.


  • Joint Control: Mutual wills allow partners to maintain joint control over their assets, ensuring that their wishes are carried out after they both pass.
  • Protection: Mutual wills can provide protection for surviving partners and children, providing them with financial stability and security.
  • Peace of Mind: By creating mutual wills, couples can obtain peace of mind in knowing that their assets will be divided as they intended.


  • Inflexibility: Once mutual wills have been created, they are difficult to change, which can leave survivors in difficult financial situations if their circumstances change.
  • Expensive: Mutual wills can be expensive to create, particularly in comparison to individual wills, which can make them inaccessible to some people.
  • Lack of autonomy: Mutual wills can restrict the ability of each partner to manage their own affairs, potentially leading to feelings of loss of control.

It's important to carefully consider whether mutual wills align with your unique financial and personal circumstances.

Pro Tip: Consult with a professional estate planner to determine whether mutual wills are the right choice for you and your partner.

Trust and Estate Planning with Mutual Wills

Trust and Estate Planning with Mutual Wills is an essential aspect of planning for the future. A mutual will defines the intentions of two people who want to leave behind the same testamentary wishes, in the case of their passing. This type of will is commonly used by couples and serves as a tool to ensure that the surviving partner receives the assets as stated in the will.

In addition to defining the distribution of assets, mutual wills also prevent the surviving partner from changing the will after the other partner s death. This is because the will is legally binding and cannot be changed without the consent of both parties. Furthermore, mutual wills provide a sense of security and peace of mind, as both parties agree on the decision-making process for their assets.

One unique detail about mutual wills is that they can also include provisions for minors. This means that the will can specify how assets will be managed for the benefit of minors in case of the passing of both parents. This is important because minors are unable to manage their assets, and a mutual will ensures that their parents assets are used according to the parents wishes.

A notable true history of mutual wills involves the famous comedian, Robin Williams. The actor and his wife had mutual wills that ensured their assets were left to each other in case of one s passing. However, after Williams death, it became apparent that he had set up a trust that took precedence over their mutual wills. This highlights the importance of seeking professional advice to ensure that all legal documents align with each other.

Five Facts About Mutual Will Definition - Trust & Estate Planning:

  • ✅ A mutual will is a type of legal agreement made between two or more individuals, typically married couples, that outlines how their joint assets will be distributed after their deaths. (Source: LegalMatch)
  • ✅ Under a mutual will, the surviving partner is bound by the terms of the will and cannot change the distribution of assets after the other partner passes away. (Source: LegalZoom)
  • ✅ Mutual wills can include provisions for the care of minor children, charitable donations, and property distribution among family members. (Source: Forbes)
  • ✅ It is important to seek the advice of an experienced estate planning attorney when drafting a mutual will to ensure the document is legally binding and meets your specific needs and goals. (Source: Wealth Management)
  • ✅ Mutual wills can provide peace of mind and security for couples, as they ensure that their wishes are carried out and their assets are distributed according to their wishes. (Source: The Balance)

FAQs about Mutual Will Definition - Trust & Estate Planning

What is the definition of a mutual will in trust and estate planning?

A mutual will is a legal document created between two people, typically spouses, that outlines their wishes for the distribution of their assets upon their death. It differs from a standard will in that it is a joint agreement and cannot be changed unilaterally by one of the parties.

How does a mutual will work in trust and estate planning?

In a mutual will agreement, both parties agree to leave their assets to each other, and upon the death of both parties, the assets are distributed to their chosen beneficiaries. This is often used by couples with children from previous marriages who want to ensure their assets are passed down to their own biological children.

What are the advantages of a mutual will in trust and estate planning?

The main advantage of mutual wills is that they provide certainty and security. Both parties are able to ensure that their wishes are carried out and that their assets are distributed according to their wishes. Mutual wills also help to avoid conflict and disputes between beneficiaries, which can be a major concern in estate planning.

What are the disadvantages of a mutual will in trust and estate planning?

The main disadvantage of mutual wills is that they are inflexible. Once the agreement is made, it cannot be modified or changed by one party without the consent of the other. This can be problematic if one party wants to change their will but the other does not.

Can mutual wills be changed in trust and estate planning?

It is difficult to change a mutual will once it has been created. Both parties must agree to any changes, and if one party dies, the other is bound by the terms of the agreement. In some cases, it may be possible to revoke a mutual will agreement, but this is generally a complex legal process.

How can I create a mutual will in trust and estate planning?

A mutual will agreement should be drafted by an attorney who specializes in estate planning. Both parties must fully understand the terms of the agreement and agree to the distribution of assets. It is important to keep the mutual will agreement in a safe place and notify your executor of its existence.