What is a mirror Will?
Posted on 19th December 2019 at 18:28
Many couples would like to make almost identical Wills, or mirror Wills, leaving their estate to their partner when they die.
Often everything will go to their children when the surviving partner dies.
In mirror Wills only the name of the person making the Will, and the name of their beneficiary might change. This makes them a more straightforward and cheaper option for many people.
For couples, mirror Wills mean that when one person dies, the other is protected.
When should we write mirror Wills?
If you have children, writing your Wills as soon as possible is important.
Whether you are married, in a civil partnership or engaged, making mirror Wills is a good idea if you both want to pass on your assets in the same way when you die. It this isn’t the case you can both make individual Wills.
What is included in a mirror Will?
A mirror Will protects your partner's financial future. This is especially important if you aren’t married, because they might not be legally entitled to inherit your estate if you don’t confirm that this is what you want in your Will.
Your mirror Will can include instructions for everything to be left to your surviving children if you both die at the same time. If your children are under the age of 18, you can appoint a guardian if you both die.
Often, the partner will be the sole beneficiary and executor in each mirror Will, but additional executors should be included in case you both die at the same time.
Are there any problems with mirror Wills?
Although mirror Wills are used when a couple's wishes are identical, each person’s Will is their own and they can change it at any time. If someone decides to change their Will, they don’t have to tell their partner.
This could be important if, after your death, your partner remarries or has children with someone else. They could change their Will to pass on your assets to other people.
It’s also worth considering the possibility that your surviving partner might need to go into care in later life. In this case the local authority can take into account their assets and expect them to be used before providing additional support. That could mean that there is very little left to pass on to your children.
Are there alternatives to mirror Wills?
Because there are many modern ‘blended’ families a ‘life interest trust’ can be included in your Will. This will describe how your assets should be divided when the surviving partner dies.
The trust is legally binding and can’t be changed unless everyone agrees, including the people named as beneficiaries.
If the assets include property, then you and your partner must be ‘tenants in common’ rather than ‘joint tenants’.
Another option is to leave gifts to your children rather than leaving everything to your partner, which is often the case in mirror Wills.
If you would like some advice about whether mirror Wills would be a good choice for you and your partner, please get in touch.
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