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Mutual Will, Mirror Will and Joint Will

When 2 parties want to write a Will together, there are different options.


Mutual Will

In a mutual Will arrangement, both parties have separate Wills on similar terms (in most cases, dealing with same assets). The parties will have a separate agreement between them indicating their intention to create mutual Wills and not to revoke the mutual Wills without the agreement of the other party. The usual terms of the agreement include the following:

1. Both parties shall not revoke or make any amendments to their Will without the agreement of the other party while both parties are alive.

2. Parties shall leave their properties to their agreed beneficiaries, in their agreed proportions.

3. Even after the demise of one party, the surviving party shall not revoke his/ her Will or amend it in a way that runs contrary to their agreement.

While it is possible to have an oral agreement, parties under a mutual Will arrangement usually have their agreement in writing so as to prevent any potential dispute. Often, the parties to a mutual Will arrangement will let their beneficiaries know that they are the beneficiaries to the mutual Wills. This will allow the beneficiaries to know their legal positions in the case that one party amends/ revokes his/ her Will without the consent of the other party.


Mirror Will

A mirror Will arrangement is similar to a mutual Will arrangement in that the mirror Wills are made by 2 parties who agreed to having similar terms in the Wills. However, unlike a mutual Will arrangement, there is no separate agreement (oral or written) between parties. This means that either party is at liberty to change his/ her mind as and when they wish to.

While mirror Wills need not be identical, they mirror each other in the sense that the mirror Wills reflect both parties’ agreed wishes in asset distribution and estate administration.


Joint Will

Thirdly, there is the joint Will arrangement. In a joint Will arrangement, there is only one Will, unlike the mirror Will and mutual Will arrangement. Upon the demise of the first party, the remaining party shall become a trustee of all the assets named in the joint Will. Assets named in the joint Will shall be disposed according to the instructions in the joint Will. Any amendment/ revocation of the joint Will require the consent of both testators in the Will.

In practice, joint Wills are rarely used as it can lead to many problems when one party passes away or when one party wishes to revoke the joint Will. It is also unclear how the Courts in Singapore will uphold and enforce joint Wills.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Types of Wills

The mutual Will arrangement will likely lead to the most costs since there are 3 legal documents which need to be prepared, namely the 2 Wills and the separate agreement. It is more rigid than the mirror Will arrangement as a result of the separate agreement and is able to provide more security for your loved ones.

The mirror Will arrangement is flexible, in that one party can amend/ revoke his/ her Will without being subject to consent by the other party. However, it provides the least security for your beneficiaries out of the 3 arrangements.

The joint Will arrangement is likely to be the cheapest, since there is only one Will involved. It is rigid and you are able to provide the most security for your beneficiaries since the joint Will cannot be amended/ revoked without the consent of the other testator. However, potential issues may arise upon the demise of one party or when one party wishes to amend/ revoke the joint Will.


Revocation of Will

In usual circumstances, revoking a Will can be done by:

1. Marriage

2. Executing a new Will.

After making a mirror Will, either party can make a new Will without legal consequences since the parties are not bound by an agreement.

For a joint Will arrangement, parties can only revoke the joint Will if there is consent from the other party. This also applies for the mutual Will arrangement, since parties have an express agreement not to revoke their respective Wills.


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