Mutual Wills in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • Re Goodchild (Deceased) and Another
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 02 May 1997

    A key feature of the concept of mutual wills is the irrevocability of the mutual intentions. The test must always be, 'Suppose that during the lifetime of the surviving testator the intended beneficiary did something which the survivor regarded as unpardonable, would he or she be free not to leave the combined estate to him?' The answer must be that the survivor is so entitled unless the testators agreed otherwise when they executed their wills.

    Dennis and Joy executed wills in the same terms save that each left his or her estate to the other. But there was no express agreement not to revoke the wills. The fact that each expected that the other would leave them to him is not sufficient to impress the arrangement with a floating trust, binding in equity. A mutual desire that Gary should inherit could not of itself prevent the survivor from resiling from the arrangement.

    The bequest of his entire estate by a husband to his wife absolutely and beneficially with a gift over of whatever was left at her death could not take effect in accordance with its terms. Either the interest taken by the wife would be limited or the gift over would be void as repugnant to the absolute and beneficial nature of the gift. In my view that is what both principle and the authorities require.

  • De Bruyne v De Bruyne and Others
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 13 May 2010

    It is not necessary in such cases to show that the property was acquired by actual fraud (although the principle would apply equally in such cases). This is sufficient in itself to create the fiduciary obligation and to require the imposition of a constructive trust.

  • Shovelar and Others v Lane and Others
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 12 July 2011

    The effect of mutual wills upon the distribution of the estate under a later will which is admitted to probate is a matter for the Chancery Division applying the law of trusts; it is not a matter of probate law and practice. The nature of that litigation is not inquisitorial: it is adversarial and, not infrequently, very adversarial as the two families disunited by death battle for their perceived true inheritance.

  • Olins v Walters
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 04 July 2008

    It is a legally necessary condition of mutual wills that there is clear and satisfactory evidence of a contract between two testators. However, the argument resting on the alleged insufficiency or uncertainty of the terms of this contract is misconceived. The case for the existence of mutual wills does not involve making a contractual claim for specific performance or other relief.

  • Gillett v Holt
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 08 March 2000

    Both sides are agreed on that, and in the course of the oral argument in this court it repeatedly became apparent that the quality of the relevant assurances may influence the issue of reliance, that reliance and detriment are often intertwined, and that whether there is a distinct need for a 'mutual understanding' may depend on how the other elements are formulated and understood.

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Legislation
  • Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Act 2020
    • UK Non-devolved
    • January 01, 2020
    ...... with a view to improving the application of this Chapter in their mutual relations. The States which have concluded such an agreement shall ... (d) (d) wills and succession; . (e) (e) insolvency, composition and analogous matters; ......
  • National Debt Act 1830
    • UK Non-devolved
    • January 01, 1830
    ...... Annuities subject to or affected by any such Trusts or Devises or Wills or Testamentary. Papers, for all Purposes and in all Cases in which such ... New Stock transferable at Banks of England and Ireland may be mutually transferred, conformable to Directions of 5 G. 4. c. 53. as altered by 6 ......
  • Didmarton and Oldbury-on-the-Hill (Gloucestershire) inclosure Act 1829
    • UK Non-devolved
    • January 01, 1829
    ...... and Common Fields, set out and agreed upon as and for the future mutual Boundary Line of such adjoining Portions of the said Parishes as were ...Settlements, &c. not to be affected or Wills revoked. Allotments and exchanged Lands to remain to the same Uses. ......
  • Orsett (Essex) inclosure and reduction to a stint and improvement of commons and waste grounds Act 1825
    • UK Non-devolved
    • January 01, 1825
    ...... in such Manner as may be from Time to Time deemed expedient for the mutual Benefit of all Persons interested; and also annually to appoint a Herdsman ...XXX. And be it further enacted, That nothing herein or in the said Wills, &c. recited Acts contained shall extend or be construed to extend to ......
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Books & Journal Articles
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Law Firm Commentaries
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Forms
  • Chapter IHTM12063
    • HMRC Guidance manuals
    • Formularios de Derecho Civil, Mercantil y Registral
    • HM Revenue & Customs
    ......But this in itself is not sufficient to constitute a mutual Will. There must be an arrangement or agreement to make such Wills (with ......
  • Chapter IHTM12062
    • HMRC Guidance manuals
    • Formularios de Derecho Civil, Mercantil y Registral
    • HM Revenue & Customs
    ...... executing a single instrument, which then operates as their separate Wills on the deaths of each of them. In practice this type of Will is extremely ... to be used to exercise a joint power of appointment or where a mutual Will (IHTM12063) is made as a joint and mutual Will. ......
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