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What Are Mirror Wills?

Have you been thinking about making a will recently and the term Mirror Wills has been mentioned. Let us explain what they are.

Mirror Wills are almost identical Wills made by two people, usually a married couple or a couple in a civil partnership, that provide a straightforward way to express their wishes on how they want their estates to be distributed when they die.

Making a Will is one of the most important things you will do in life, as it enables you to protect loved ones long after you are no longer around. By stating your wishes for your estate and who you want to benefit from all your belongings in a Will, you ensure your wishes are carried out when you die.

Are Mirror Wills A Good Idea?

If you have similar wishes to your spouse or civil partner on how you want your estate to be distributed when you die, then Mirror Wills can be a simple and cost-effective way to create a Will. However, they do come with some disadvantages as well as advantages and it’s important you seek legal advice before drafting a Mirror Will.

Advantages Of Mirror Wills

  • They are two separate legal documents but are almost identical, making them more affordable than creating two separate Wills
  • They provide the flexibility of personalising each Will as each individual can state their own preference for executors, trustees and guardians

Disadvantages Of Mirror Wills

  • They can be changed at any time, without the other person knowing
  • Complications can arise if children remarry or divorce which can result in assets passing outside of the family

Ways To Avoid Mirror Wills Complications

There are ways to ensure Mirror Wills still provide you with the best possible protection when it comes to your wishes being carried out when you die.

It is possible to create a trust within your mirror Wills with a view to protecting part or all of your estate. This may include severing the tenancy in your property so that you are described as ‘tenants in common’ rather than ‘joint tenants’. The reason for this is that as ‘joint tenants’ the surviving partner is entitled to 100% of the property whereas ‘tenants in common’ own a defined share in the property (which may be 50/50) and that share can then be left to other beneficiaries (such as children) rather than it automatically passing to the surviving owner. It is also possible to create a right within your Mirror Wills to allow the surviving partner to live at the property until they die. If the surviving partner needs care in later life, the Local Authority may therefore not automatically have access to 100% of the property.  

It is also possible to create Mutual Wills.

Mutual Wills

These are similar to Mirror Wills but provide the added protection that they can only be changed with the mutual consent of both parties.

Compare this with Mirror Wills and they potentially provide greater protection for the future. With Mirror Wills, if one dies and the surviving partner remarries, they are free to change their Will and leave everything to their new spouse rather than to their children. As they can also be changed when both partners are alive, one could decide to make changes at any time and the other doesn’t legally need to be notified.

How We Can Help You With Writing A Will

Creating a Will is vitally important as it enables you to express your wishes for loved ones when you die, choosing exactly how your estate is to be distributed and who is to benefit. Having a Mirror Will comes with many benefits and is certainly better than having no Will at all. However, choosing the right Will for you, your family and your situation, is ideal – and this is something we can help you with.

Our Wills solicitors would advise and guide you when it comes to drafting a Will that is best for you, depending on your personal circumstances. We would help you consider every aspect of your wishes to ensure your Will details everything you want to happen to your estate when your die, including any trusts you want to create and any particular belongings you want to pass to certain individuals.

We can also professionally draft your Will for you and retain the original or a certified copy to give you peace of mind it is safe and will be easy for loved ones to find when you die.   

To speak to one of our specialist solicitors about Mirror Wills and for advice on making a Will, contact us on Freephone  0800 988 3674 or Tel our Hoole office on: 01244 311 633 or email advice@bartletts.co.uk