Making a Will is hugely important. Doing so ensures that, when you die, your wishes are followed and the money, property and other assets you hold will be passed on to the people and causes that you care about most. Mirror Wills are an option chosen by many couples – but what are they and is it a good idea to make one?
‘Mirror Wills’ is a term used to describe two identical Wills drafted by two people – usually spouses or civil partners – that state that everything should pass to their partner or their children after they die. Mirror Wills are popular because they are a cost-effective and straightforward means of creating a Will when the couple shares the same views on what should happen to their estate, i.e. that everything they own should pass to the other.
The word ‘mirror’ is used because the instructions in the two Wills mirror each other. For example, Mr and Mrs Smith make Mirror Wills to ensure that each will inherit all of the other’s assets when they die. Mr Smith’s Will might read:
“I leave all of my estate to my wife on death. If she dies before me, all of my estate should pass to my children.”
Mrs Smith’s Will might read: “I leave all of my estate to my husband on death. If he dies before me, all of my estate should pass to my children.”
However, couples should approach Mirror Wills with caution. Here, our Wills and Estate Planning Solicitors provide some facts to help you decide if a Mirror Will is right for you.
As mentioned above, Mirror Wills are quick, easy and cost-effective to set up. As the two documents are mostly identical, they are more simple and affordable to draw up than two separate Wills. The couple can also stipulate preferences in their individual Will, such as whom they wish to act as their executors or trustees.
It is important to be aware that with Mirror Wills, one party can change their Will without the other knowing. Mirror Wills are not legally linked, so the other spouse or partner does not have to be notified of any changes, and either can make changes if they wish.
Mirror Wills can also create issues if a surviving partner requires care later in life. A local authority can use a person’s savings or assets to cover care costs. This can mean that the deceased’s assets, having passed to the surviving partner, may be used instead of passing on to their children after the surviving partner passes away.
When you are drafting a Will, it is vital you seek specialist legal advice to maximise the protection of your estate and minimise any risks. Our Wills and Probate Solicitors provide guidance on how to ensure your estate is left to your loved ones.
There are a range of options open to couples who wish to pass assets to one another and their children following their death. For expert, tailored advice, speak to a member of our Estate Planning Team today by calling 0808 168 5813 or complete our online contact form.