These kits can be purchased online or at various stores, and allow to let you create a formal Will without paying for a lawyer. While they are an affordable option, they don’t allow you to customize your intentions as an experienced lawyer can.
Another name for this is a “Personal Directive” which gives your loved ones instructions about how you wish to be treated and cared for in a medical situation where you cannot communicate or lack the capacity to make decisions for yourself. This document allows you to appoint someone you trust to make these decisions for you – and are binding in Alberta (but not in all jurisdictions, so please check with your lawyer). This type of Will has nothing to do with distributing your personal property.
Mutual Wills are typically created by married couples, or couples in an adult interdependent relationship (previously called “common law”). They are written on the assumption that both partners agree that the surviving partner won’t change his or her Will if the other partner were to die. For this type of Will to be valid, both parties must show:
- Clear intent to create the same Will.
- Agree to the same distribution of their mutual assets.
- Agree not to revoke the Wills.
A typical use of this type of Will is in a blended-family situation where both parties want to make sure that any children from a different marriage will be treated the same, even after the death of one of the parties.
Joint Wills have the same requirements as above, except with a Joint Will there is only one document signed by both parties, but with a Mutual Will there are two separate documents. Putting your intentions into one Joint Will shows strong intention to create exactly the same Will.
While Mirror Wills are similar to Mutual Wills, the important difference is that with Mirror Wills both parties acknowledge the right for a surviving partner to change his or her Will. This is generally the most common type of Will used by married or common law partners, whereby each partner agrees to distribute his or her Estate (except for specific gifts) to the surviving partner. If they should die together, or after the surviving partner dies, the remaining Estate is passed to their children in equal shares – or if there are no children, to other beneficiaries named in the Will.
We typically do not recommend Mutual or Joint Wills because they are very hard to change after the death of one of the parties – even if clear intent and agreement is reflected in the Will. This means that if you change your mind after your spouse’s death, you may not be legally able to make the changes you want at that point.
We generally prefer to draft Mirror Wills for our client couples, and offer a value-added, comprehensive Wills Package to our clients which includes:
- Will (Single or Mirror)
- Power of Attorney
- Personal Directive
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions that aren’t answered on our site, or to schedule an appointment. We’re always happy to chat with you about any of your legal needs.
- Phone: (587) 272-2050
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org