Reciprocal Wills Law and Legal Definition

Reciprocal wills refers to reciprocal testamentary dispositions made by two or more persons in favor of each other. Parties can unite the provisions in a will or they can make separate wills. The reciprocal will agreement is an enforceable contract and when violated, creates a debt.

A reciprocal will is defined as “a written instrument executed and published by two or more persons disposing of the property, or some part of the property, owned or in common by them or in severalty by them”. “Reciprocal wills are the separate instruments of two or more persons, the terms of such wills being reciprocal and by which each testator makes testamentary disposition in favor of the other”. [Estate of Lidbury v. Commissioner, 800 F.2d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 1986)]

On the death of the testator first dying, the will is subject to record and probate as his/ her will. On the death of the surviving testator, the will is subject to probate as his/ her will. A joint will may or may not be reciprocal. A will that is both joint and reciprocal is an instrument executed jointly by two or more persons with reciprocal provisions and shows on its face that the bequests are made one in consideration of the other.