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What's a mutual will?

A mutual will is a common estate planning tool that governs the estate of more than just one person. Usually, the people who enter mutual wills with one another are married couples or couples who are in seriously committed relationships.

Your mutual will is considered "mutually binding." This means that if one person passes away, the other party of the will must follow the terms of the document. The primary reason why people enter into a mutually binding will is to protect the inheritances of their children. Let's say you want to leave $100,000 to each of your children, but you've remarried and your current spouse is not the biological parent of your children. To ensure that your new spouse does not absorb all of your assets into his or her own estate, you can have your new spouse agree to eventually pass on certain assets to your children in the event of your death.

To illuminate this even more, imagine that Jim enters into a mutual will with Jane. Jim dies and all of his money and assets go to Jane according to the will. Jane remarries, but if Jane dies, the assets she inherited from Jim will not go to her new husband. Instead, they will go to his children as a result of the agreements Jane made in the mutual will.

An experienced Illinois estate planning lawyer can assist couples in creating a suitable mutual will that reflects their wishes and the needs of their unique family circumstances. When properly drafted, your mutual will can safeguard the inheritances of your children.

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