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Are mutual wills a good option for couples in British Columbia?

One of the most important things about a will is having the ability to change or revoke the document. When mutual wills are prepared correctly, the option to change a will may disappear. That does not necessarily mean that mutual wills are a bad idea for you and your spouse, but it does mean you should consider the decision carefully and talk to a lawyer.

The philosophy behind mutual wills concerns leaving property to one or more parties through a special kind of contract. In order to work as intended, two people draft similar wills and then sign a written agreement not to revoke their wills except by mutual agreement. The terms of these wills usually involve providing for each other after death. If both spouses die, mutual wills may provide for any third parties such as children of either spouse from previous marriages or relationships.

The signed agreement not to change the wills should continue after the death of one spouse. This prevents the surviving spouse from changing the will outside of the agreement. For example, if the surviving spouse changes his or her will to benefit parties not named in the mutual wills, it could be a breach of agreement and the previously-named beneficiaries may be able to take legal action.

Mutual wills are not without legal complications and should be given ample consideration ahead of time. Some things to consider include what will happen if divorce occurs and specific instructions about what assets are included in the wills.

Having said all of that, it is difficult for a lawyer to advise individuals about the kind of will they should choose without forming a relationship first. The best way for you to get a more accurate answer to your question is to consult with a wills and estates lawyer serving British Columbia residents.

Source: Notaries.BC.ca, "Mutual Wills," accessed April 29, 2016

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