What you need to know about a mutual will
Mutual testament is a combination of two or more wills.
Generally, this is a two-person joint testament, whereby both parties give orders for each other, written on the same document.
Mutual will is usually made between spouses. On the other hand, a mutual will is possible between any two persons (for example, between siblings). Mutual will usually aims to secure the surviving spouse’s position.
Should both have their own testamentary document or one common document?
The parties may choose whether to draft mutual testament in one or two originals.
The number of originals is relevant, inter alia, for the revoking of the will. The will can be revoked either wholly or in part, the other spouse still living or after their death.
On the other hand, there is no need for a mutual will to be drafted on two different papers, even though there are two different versions, but both the wills are written on the same document.
How a mutual will comes into force
A mutual will must meet the normal form requirements of a will. In other words, the will must be in writing and it must include the signatures of both testators and the signatures of two impartial witnesses.
Two impartial witnesses must be simultaneously present and authenticate the will with their signatures. Witnesses must know that the document they are authenticating is a last will although they need not know the detailed contents of the testament.
If the original will cannot be found in the death estate of the deceased spouse after their death, it is necessary to find out whether the spouse might have wanted to revoke the will for his part.
In Finland there is no need to probate a will in court after the death of the testator. A will becomes enforceable after each legal legal heir has been served the will and either accepted it right away or not contested it within the six-month time limit.
The benefits of a mutual testament
Mutual testament is a tool for heritage planning that can, for example,
- ensure the surviving spouse’s livelihood
- reduce the amount of widow’s inheritance tax
- help to secure the property for descendants
- influence on size of inheritance shares of the heirs and timing of inheritance distribution e.g. by drafting terms to protect the widow against heirs’ demands for their legal portions.
When the Mutual Will is drawn up without secondary regulations, the property might be transferred completely to the relatives of the surviving spouse according to the wishes of the deceased. Mutual testament can also be made conditional.