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Mirror Wills: What Are They?

Mirror Wills: What Are They?

So What is a Mirror Will?

When thinking about writing your will it is important to know all the options open to you. One possibility is the use of “Mirror Wills”. As the term implies, Mirror Wills reflect each other: the terms of the wills are similar, with the testators leaving their estate to each other respectively and thereafter to other named beneficiaries – i.e. a couple to their children.

Mirror Wills are most often used by couples, however, friends or relatives may also wish to make them. The benefits of making Mirror Wills is that they allow the parties involved to first provide for one another, whilst ensuring that in the long-term the intended beneficiaries are provided for. For those that are married or in a civil partnership Mirror Wills have the added benefit of making use of the transferrable tax allowance, reducing the rate of inheritance tax payable upon the death of the survivor.

Unlike mutual wills, Mirror Wills are flexible and can be changed at any time; therefore simple Mirror Wills are based upon trust between the parties that a survivor will not disinherit current beneficiaries.

Why Not Make a Mutual Will?

When one party to a Mutual Will dies the survivor is effectively bound by the previous Will, and beneficiaries previously named acquire a right to the estate. The inflexible nature of such Wills has brought a number of cases to court to clarify the law in this area. Yet there are many circumstances in which the doctrine of Mutual Wills is in need of clarification. Some examples:

  • Where a widow remarries – which by law revokes a Will – can the new spouse inherit?
  • What if a survivor acquires new dependents e.g. a child? Could they inherit and/or claim “reasonable financial provision”?

Given the ambiguity of the law in this area, and the rigidity imposed upon a survivor – whose circumstances may be entirely different many years down the line – we would not advise their use.

If you wish to make a mirror will and have more complex family circumstances, or are worried about your co-testator remarrying or changing their will upon your death, make sure that you get good legal advice drawing up your Will to ensure that your intended beneficiaries are protected – it may even be worth investigating the option of setting up a Property or Discretionary Trust in such circumstances.

If you would like to discuss your situation with a member of our specialist will-drafting and later life planning team contact Rosalind Watchorn Solicitors today.

For an initial meeting without commitment or if you are housebound and need a home visit call Stephanie or Kathryn on 0114 229 0160.

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