Chicago Mutual Wills Attorney

One of the most important gifts you can provide your loved ones is the freedom from contentious arguments and the trauma that often accompanies the division of your estate after your death. This can be accomplished only by having a comprehensive will.

Just as important is the peace of mind that having a will gives you. And, if you have been married for many years or share a fair amount of assets with your spouse, a will can simplify the division of property and ensure that your wishes are enacted after your death.

Mutual Wills vs Reciprocal or Joint Wills

Many couples are unsure of what path to take when it comes to making wills. Understanding your options can make the process of composing a will and dividing your estate among your beneficiaries much smoother.

Reciprocal, or joint, wills are most common among spouses who have children only with each other and whose wishes align for the designation of their property. A reciprocal set of wills are identical or near-identical wills signed by each spouse that determine what happens to their property in the case of the death of one or both spouses.

In the case that one spouse dies before the other, the surviving spouse is able to change the will and division of assets however they wish. When a husband dies and leaves a reciprocal will, for instance, a wife will be able to change aspects of her/their will as she sees fit.

A mutual will is a tighter commitment. It is often used by spouses who have children from other marriages and who want to make sure that their wishes are not modified after their death. In a mutual will, both spouses agree to the division of assets listed in the will. When one spouse dies, the surviving spouse is mostly bound by the mutual will to maintain the division of assets recorded in the mutual will.

The most effective mutual wills are written with language that allows for the possibility of changing the will while both spouses are alive, but which precludes the possibility for amendments after a spouse dies.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it possible to change assets from probate to non-probate to modify a mutual will for the surviving spouse?

No. In estate law, probate property refers to assets that are owned solely by one spouse, such as personal property or life insurance policies that are the decedent’s name only, whereas non-probate property, such as joint bank accounts or jointly-owned vehicle titles, is owned jointly. Mutual wills restrict surviving spouses from changing the deceased spouse’s property from probate to non-probate in order to modify the will.

Is a mutual will modifiable?

Under some circumstances, yes. Though a mutual will is designed to not be modified after one spouse’s death, a spouse can change their mutual will if they, while both spouses are still living, notify the other spouse of their intention to do so.

Is it possible for a surviving spouse to gift property?

Yes, if the gifts align with the deceased spouse’s wishes for the property as set forth in the mutual will. A surviving spouse may not make any gifts that limit or change the essence of the mutual will that the spouses originally made. Gifts of lesser importance or gifts unspecified by the mutual wills may be made, but any donations that modify the essence of the mutual will are prohibited.

Why Do I Need to Have a Lawyer?

Specificity is an important element of any will. Composing a will means considering the minutiae of your property and asking yourself hard questions about the designated recipients of that property.

However, when dealing with mutual wills, which are much more restrictive than joint wills, specificity is of utmost importance. Without ensuring that you address all of your assets, all of your wishes, and all of your beneficiaries, you may leave crucial information out.

This creates loopholes for your spouse that may violate your wishes or leave your beneficiaries in a state of confusion and strife.

A lawyer can help you address each element of your will and ensure that nothing is overlooked. Employing a lawyer to guide you and your spouse through the mutual will process is sure to save you time, effort, and expenses in the long run.

Why Choose Peck Ritchey, LLC?

Not just any lawyer can do the will work that Peck Ritchey, LLC attorneys are renowned for in the Chicago area. Our attorneys have more than 100 years of combined legal experience that we put to work when composing wills for spouses throughout the Northbrook and Chicago areas. Over the years, we have established a reputation for our thorough and insightful will work in these communities.

We have been given many awards throughout the years for our legal work. Partner Kerry Peck was named a Super Lawyer and rewarded with the Justice John Paul Stevens Award in 2014 for his outstanding services. Partner Timothy Ritchey was also designated one of Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Stars in the years from 2012 to 2018, as well as one of the 40 Illinois Attorneys Under 40 to Watch.

When you let an Peck Ritchey, LLC attorney guide you through the process of drafting a will, you and your beneficiaries can be assured that you haven’t left anything out or forgotten even the most minor detail.

Cases We Handle

We handle a wide range of will and testament cases. At Peck Ritchey, LLC, our attorneys can help you determine if a mutual will or joint will would be best for your situation. We aid spouses in composing mutual wills in a variety of cases:

  • When spouses have shared descendants
  • When spouses have shared and independent descendants
  • When spouses want to ensure that their wills are maintained by the other spouse when they die.

Contact Us

If you and your spouse are considering making a will in the Chicago area, you need to contact Peck Ritchey, LLC as soon as possible. Give yourself peace of mind and ease the burden on those you’ll leave behind when you die. We can discuss the possibilities and options you have in creating a mutual will. Our team of attorneys is ready to help you today. Call us at (855) 328-5787.