Mirror Wills Explained
A Mirror Will allows a couple to make almost identical Wills if they have similar wishes about what happens to their assets when they die. The reason they are called Mirror Wills is because in most cases one Will ‘mirrors’ the other.
If you both make a Mirror Will at the same time, whoever dies first leaves everything they have to their husband, wife or civil partner. Then when the surviving person dies, everything in the Estate is given to the named beneficiaries.
Whilst Mirror Wills can be a cost effective way to safeguard your assets, they may not be the right choice for you and your partner.
Whether you decide to make a Mirror Will or a Single Will (for one person), it’s always best to get legal advice from a specialist Wills and Trusts Solicitor.
Things to Consider with Mirror Wills
There are some really important things to consider when you decide whether to make Mirror Wills or not.
The first thing to consider is your property, if you have one. If you both make Mirror Wills which leave your assets to each other and you die, your partner will inherit all of your share of the property. This is a good thing, but there may be some drawbacks to this arrangement.
The first is if your partner needs to pay for care home fees as they get older. If they’ve inherited all of your share of the property, they will be means tested against that full amount. It could also mean that all of that money could be spent on their care fees, leaving nothing for your children to inherit.
Property Trust Wills
The above situation can be avoided by setting up a Property Trust Will. This will allow you to give your surviving partner a life interest in your property, either until they die or sell the property. At the point, your share of the property will pass to whoever you left it to, usually your children. By having this type of Trust in place, your share of the property is not included in any means test calculations for care and you can leave it to who you choose.
Having a Property Will Trust also means that if your die first and your partner remarries, your share of the property is protected for your children to inherit.
To set up a Property Trust in your Will, you and your partner will have to own your property as Tenants in Common, rather than Joint Tenants. If you are unsure about whether you own your property as Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common one of our team will be able to check this for you during your free initial meeting.
Whether you decide to make Mirror Wills, add a Property Trust to your Will or just make separate Wills, make sure you regularly review and update your Wills.
Why Make a Will?
Wills are a way for you and your partner to protect each other and protect your family too. Making a Will allows you to:
- Decide who will be your children’s guardian if you both die
- Decide who will benefit from your Will
- List gifts to anyone you choose
- Decide who will be the Executors of the Estate
Making a Mirror Will means you and your partner can reflect your joint wishes together. That’s great for some people, but it may not the right choice for everyone.
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