Mutual Will Agreements – a.k.a. controlling your spouse from the grave

When spouses decide to prepare their wills together, there may be a concern that once one of the spouses die and the surviving spouse later remarries, that the surviving spouse may not live up to the joint intentions and promises she or he made to the deceased spouse on how their estates should be divided. This concern often occurs for married couples who were previously married with children from their first marriages. There may be a concern that the surviving spouse may later decide to change his or her will and shut out the deceased spouse’s children from the first marriage or a concern that the surviving spouse later remarries and does not adequately provide for their children.

So what can a married couple do to ensure that the surviving spouse adheres to their shared intentions and to ensure that the deceased spouse’s property goes to his or hers desired beneficiaries?

One tool that can be used to minimize the risk of a surviving spouse from not honouring the shared intentions is to have both spouses enter into a Mutual Wills Agreement (“MWA”). An MWA is a contract whereby both spouses agree to not change or revoke their will without notice to the other spouse. Once the MWA is signed by both spouses and one of the spouses dies, the agreement becomes irrevocable and cannot be changed unless the change occurs by way of law or if the MWA itself permits specific instances of change.

If you have any questions about your estate planning needs or any questions about a Mutual Will Agreement and how it may help protect your estate, feel free to connect with us to learn more.

Michelle Eames, LLB, LLM