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Tampa Estate Planning Attorney > Blog > Estate Planning > Mutual Will Agreements In Florida

Mutual Will Agreements In Florida


You and your spouse have been married for decades, and you do everything together.  Both spouses’ names are on your bank account, and you own your house as tenants by the entirety.  You children never give much thought to which cousins are on Mom’s side of the family and which are on Dad’s side.  Even though you and your spouse plan to be buried next to each other or to have your ashes scattered over the same site on the Myakka River, death is a profoundly individual experience, and to some extent, so is estate planning.  It is great that you and your spouse are on the same page about the legacy that you want to leave to your family, but at minimum, each spouse needs his or her own separate will.  Although Florida does not allow couples to write their wills jointly, it does allow them to sign legally binding agreements promising that the surviving spouse will not change his or her will after the first spouse dies.  If you and your spouse are considering signing a mutual will agreement, contact a Tampa estate planning lawyer.

How Mutual Will Agreements Work

Florida law does not recognize joint wills signed by married couples.  A legally valid will can only pertain to one person.  The closest thing you can do to joining your will to your spouse’s will is to sign a mutual will agreement.  This agreement says that, after the first spouse dies, the surviving spouse cannot make any changes to his or her will.  Both spouses must sign the will, and they must both be bound by its conditions in the event that they outlive the other spouse.  You cannot have your cake and eat it too, where your spouse must honor your wishes if you die first but you can change your will if your spouse dies first.

Mutual Will Agreements Are Not for Starry-Eyed Young Lovers

It is easy to see how signing a legally binding agreement not to change your will after your spouse dies can cause problems.  Specifically, a mutual will agreement would be an albatross around the neck of anyone who was widowed before age 60.  The best candidates for mutual will agreements are retirement age couples who have been married for decades and who have children together but do not have children from previous marriages.  If this does not describe you, there are other ways to protect your family from your spouse having a change of heart after you die.  For example, you can set up a trust for a family member that you fear that your spouse will disinherit.  As a non-probate asset, the trust will not be part of your estate or your spouse’s estate.

Contact David Toback With Questions About Estate Planning as a Couple

A Central Florida estate planning lawyer can help you and your spouse write your respective wills and build your estate plans together.  Contact David Toback in Tampa, Florida to set up a consultation.




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