Advantages of Mirror Wills
19 January 2021
If two people want to make Wills that mirror one another, they can make what are known as Mirror Wills. perhaps leaving everything to each other on the first death and, if they have any, to their children when the surviving partner dies.
With Co-op Legal Services, two Mirror Wills cost £234
If you and your partner have almost identical plans for what happens after each of you has passed away, Mirror Wills can be a very cost effective solution.
What is a Mirror Will?
Mirror Wills are almost identical in every way, except that they mirror each another in some aspects. This will include the name of the testator and usually the main beneficiary.
However, it’s important to note that the two Mirror Wills must be separate legal documents. They are two separate and standalone Wills, but with similar contents. The respective partners are usually named as sole beneficiary on the first death. Then on the second death both Wills name the same beneficiaries and leave the same inheritance to them.
Things to know about making Mirror Wills
You will need to ensure that both Mirror Wills are kept fully updated. So if a change is made to one Will then the same change will need to be made to the other Will to make sure that both Mirror Wills continue to reflect one another. If you create new Wills then make sure that the old Wills are properly destroyed so that there can be no confusion at a later date if an out-of-date Will is found.
It is also important to add at least one substitute executor and beneficiary to each Will. This means that the will is still effective if both partners die at the same time. The second Executor can be the same person in both wills, and this is recommended as having different Executors can lead to complications and confusion.
Any potential problems with Mirror Wills?
Yes. Either party is free to change their Will at any time. It is important to know that although a couple’s wishes may be identical, their respective Wills are theirs alone. Therefore trusting your partner is vital because if you decide to change your Will, you do not have to tell your partner.
However, just remember, they are not obliged to tell you either! This could be significant particularly if, after your death, the surviving partner re-marries or has further children with someone else. If you die first, you may have left your Estate to your partner so, if they subsequently decide to change their Will, they could pass on your assets to people you do not want.
Also getting married invalidates any existing Will, so if your partner was to remarry after you die, their estate could be dealt with under intestacy laws.
How can I protect my estate?
Rather than leaving your Estate outright to your partner, you may want to consider using a Trust in your Will. You can then decide to pass all or some (maybe just your share of a property) to the Trust.
The terms of the Trust may allow your partner to benefit from the Trust assets during their lifetime. Then after your partner’s death (or perhaps re-marriage) the assets in the Trust pass to beneficiaries you specify. This means your partner never owns the assets from your Estate so is unable to re-direct the assets if they change their Will after your death. This type of arrangement is commonly seen where couples have children from previous relationships.
It is possible for both parties to make Mirror Wills incorporating these Trust provisions. However, please note, there are different types of Trusts that can be written into your Will and it is a complex area of law so it’s important to get professional advice.
Why make a will
If you die in England or Wales without a valid Will, the law will decide who gets what. If you have no living family members, all your property and possessions will go to the Crown.
Making a Will is important no matter how inconsequential you may think it is. You never know what’s around the next corner and dying ‘intestate’ (without a Will) can cause heartache, stress and additional costs for those left behind.