Estate planning often presents itself as a challenging experience because of how much tension, complexity, and details are involved from start to finish (and perhaps long after execution). This is linked to the fact that planning for anything related to someone’s will touches base on complex family situations, especially for blended families who aren’t on the best of terms.
In the case of mutual wills—those made through cooperative arrangements between family members—matters can become more complicated because at least a few relatives will have conflicting interests. Although the idea of these types of documents is to ensure that you (or your loved one’s) intentions for beloved family and friends are carried out properly, this is rarely the case. Such is the case when it comes to dealing with a “blended” family, where there are a previous spouse and prior children and a current spouse and younger children (multiple families, in a way).
Fortunately, handling the mutual will planning process in the best way possible amid a complicated family dynamic doesn’t need to be as difficult if you consider these key points:
Dealing with the complicated dynamics
When it comes to drafting a mutual will and handling a blended family or second-marriage situation so that your children of a prior spouse and current spouse and children are provided for, there are various methods to consider.
The importance of understanding a key difference between “mirror” and mutual wills
One vital point to consider when creating a will with a blended family in mind is the key distinction between mirror and mutual wills. Understanding the key difference will allow you to determine what specific provisions you can utilize and what particular restrictions and conditions you’ll need to consider from start to finish.
To best understand which type of document best applies to your situation, here’s a quick brief on both types of documents:
- Mirror wills: This document creates parallel provisions that spouses usually use in certain situations, where a surviving party will have to act on behalf of the departed or departing spouse. Generally, spouses seek to build their documents through this structure because it gives a surviving party maximum control and ownership over a departed’s estate through distribution.
- Mutual wills: The main factor that makes mutual wills distinct is that they often differ in terms of functionality upon the first spouse’s death. Compared to the document mentioned previously, a mutual will ensures that a surviving spouse is not entitled to change a departed partner’s last wishes (except if it is previously agreed upon)—often creating bumps along the way during enactment.
Why would you want to consider a mutual will?
Typically, building and drafting a mutual will in the presence of obligations to a blended family is met with a slight objection because of how difficult the terms and conditions of such documents may be. However, a closer look at how this specific type of estate document will reveal that it is quite applicable or appropriate to situations involving second marriages!
At Ontario Wills, we recommend clients with succeeding marriages and children from prior relationships to use this type of format because it helps ensure that survivors will leave benefits to their own children. Despite the document’s contentious nature, a mutual will is recommended for spouses who have agreed on how to deal with their property on both of their deaths!
Often, the process of creating a will with considerations for conditions posed by a blended family and children from prior marriages can be complicated due to the different factors involved. Thankfully, mutual wills present a valuable opportunity for an easier experience that will lead to a more secure outcome upon your passing, so your children (and loved ones) are properly provided for!
Ontario Wills is a will and estate lawyer in Kanata that can help you circumvent the hurdles of setting up a mutual will. If you’re looking for the right professional to take care of your current situation, get in touch with us today to learn more about our services!