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What Are the Pros and Cons of a Mirror Will?

You might already understand that will writing is an important way to choose how your estate is shared to your loved ones, but what about the potential benefits of a mirror will?

We cover everything you need to know, such as the advantages and disadvantages of a mirror will, as well as what a mirror will actually is:

Mirror Wills Meaning

In the UK, Mirror wills are near identical wills where one person usually leaves their estate to their partner, who in turn leaves everything to them.

This means that when one of them dies, their partner is protected and the children can inherit the assets upon both of their deaths.

When Should Mirror Wills be Written?

Mirror wills should be written as soon as possible, particularly if you have children. Whether you are engaged, married, or in a civil partnership, you should consider creating mirror wills with your partner if you want to manage your assets in the same way.

Why Make a Mirror Will?

  • Your partner inherits everything: mirror wills are a mutual agreement between a couple to leave their whole estate to whoever outlives the other. So, you are protecting your spouse’s financial future by agreeing to a mirror will. This is particularly important if you are in a situation where you are not automatically entitled to inherit the estate (e.g., if you are in a civil partnership).

Thereby, a mirror will ensures that you and your partner will not be left without a home or financial security – something that can occur in the event of an interstate death (without making a will).

  • You can provide for your children: just as a mirror will can leave your partner financially secure, it can protect your children too. Instructions can be disclosed in your will to distribute your estate to any children if you and your partner happen to die at the same time.

What’s more, if any of your children are below the age of 18, then you can appoint a guardian to protect the estate until they are older.

  • They are affordable and easy to produce: thanks to them being near identical, mirror wills are quick to draw up, driving down the cost compared to producing two totally separate wills.
  • You can choose additional executors: usually, a person will appoint their spouse as beneficiary and executor (a person chosen by the maker of the will to administer the estate).

But in mirror wills, additional executors can be chosen so that both partners’ wishes can be carried out simultaneously.

It is recommended to choose at least one other person should you both die at the same time – someone who you both trust to administer your estate for the benefit of your children.

You can even appoint substitute executors should your first choice be unable to act as executor.

What are the Problems with Mirror Wills?

The key issue with a mirror will is that a person can change it without permission from their spouse.

It’s safe to say that most people create a mirror will with the expectation of gaining some security over who inherits their estate. Yet either party can change their will at any time, undermining the impression that mirror wills are legally binding. In fact, your partner is not obliged to inform you of any alterations made, putting your assets at risk of not being left to your loved ones.

It especially puts your children at risk of being disinherited if your partner remarries or has children with someone else after your death.

For this reason, mirror wills don’t always work well for blended families. For example, lets imagine that a married couple each have two children from previous relationships, leaving the estate to the four children equally:

if the first party dies and the surviving spouse’s relationship with their two stepchildren deteriorates, nothing would stop them from making a new will that disinherits the stepchildren and leaves everything to their own children instead.

Even if they don’t make a new will, their existing one would become void should they marry again. And if they don’t put a valid will in place before they die, their new partner would be the full beneficiary under intestacy laws, allowing them to pass on the estate as they wish.

How to Protect Your Mirror Will

A good way to protect your estate is to set up a trust. Creating a mirror will with an asset protection trust is simply a legal arrangement that is governed by at least two trustees – normally close friends or family members. They will be in charge of the trust and must carry out the wishes set in the will, reducing the likelihood of family disputes.

A trust can also include a property, which is hugely beneficial in keeping an estate intact.

Mirror Wills – an Overview

Mirror wills are an ideal way to share your estate between you and your partner, as well as being a simpler and cheaper option than signing individual ones.

Wills of this kind do rely solely on trust though and can’t provide total certainty over who will inherit your estate.

To minimise this risk, a trust can be set up to protect your mirror will and ensure that the estate is inherited by those that you love.

Why Choose Legacy Wills and Probate

It is always best to seek out professional services to help you make informed choices when deciding on financial provisions.

Legacy Wills and Probate gives you a caring and tailored service in the handling and administration of creating a will. With many years of providing advice on mirror wills in the UK, you can trust us for stress-free guidance at a time of difficult decision making.

We can help you and your partner make mirror wills to ensure your wishes for your property and possessions are expertly dealt with.

Don’t hesitate to contact our helpful team of experts today for more information on how we can help.