There are a lot of couples who make Wills at the same time as each other in identical terms. These Wills usually state that the first partner’s estate will pass to the spouse/civil partner or unmarried partner and then to their children when the spouse/civil partner or unmarried partner dies. These are usually called ‘mirror Wills’.
Both partners are permitted to change their mirror Wills at any time, including after the death of their partner, unless their Wills are considered to be ‘mutual Wills’. A mutual Will is one that contains an agreement that neither spouse/civil partner or unmarried partner shall revoke or change their Wills. These types of Wills have been compared to a contractual agreement. Click here for more information.
When the first spouse/civil partner or unmarried partner dies without having changed his / her mutual Will, a binding obligation arises against the surviving spouse/civil partner or unmarried partner to give effect to the mutually agreed arrangements which were stated in their Wills. If the surviving spouse/civil partner changes his / her Will in these circumstances, a claim may be brought when the surviving spouse/civil partner dies to uphold the first Will.
If there is any possibility that your Will may be considered to be a ‘mutual Will’, get an opinion from a lawyer. A mutual Will may prevent you from changing your Will. A legal opinion may help to prevent a claim being made against your estate if you later change your Will.
You should do all you can to prevent this happening to you.