What is a Mirror Will?
A Mirror Will is when a husband and wife, civil partners or an unmarried couple make almost identical Wills. Often these Wills leave everything to each other should one of them die, and on the death of the second partner their assets go directly to their children, or a named beneficiary if they don’t have any children.
A Mirror Will is designed for couples with similar wishes to make almost identical Wills, allowing them to:
- Appoint people they both trust to be their Executors who will deal with their Estate when they die
- Name who they both wish to benefit from the Estate
- Name anyone they intend to give a specific gift to
- Appoint any Guardians to look after children under 18
For initial legal advice on making Mirror Wills get in touch with our Wills and Trusts Solicitors.
Safeguard Your Estate
In order to safeguard the Estate in the event that both people die at the same time, it’s essential to add at least one extra executor and beneficiary into each of the Mirror Wills. The second Executor and beneficiary can be the same person in both Wills or you can choose different Executors and beneficiaries.
Unmarried couples who wish to leave their assets to the other should ensure that they make Mirror Wills as your partner wouldn’t necessarily be entitled to inherit the whole of your Estate and there could be tax implications (see below).
Each party to a Mirror Will should understand that either one of them may change their own Will as they wish in the future without requiring the consent of the other person. If circumstances change, such as separation or divorce, both Mirror Wills will need to be updated.
Mirror Wills v Mutual Wills
Mirror Wills are not the same as Mutual Wills. Mutual Wills are where couples leave their property to the other on condition that the second to die will leave all their property to an agreed beneficiary eg their children. There is an agreement that one party will not revoke or change their will without the consent of the other.
In effect, a contract is made between the individuals not to revoke or alter the Mutual Will. So if the first individual dies without having changed their Mutual Will, it’s no longer possible for the parties to the Will to change it so the survivor’s Will becomes irrevocable.
By leaving everything to your surviving spouse, it can pass from one spouse to the other tax-free (in England and Wales).
The nil rate band of Inheritance tax is currently £325,000 and any unused nil rate band is transferable to the surviving spouse, which means on the death of the surviving spouse, they can claim up to £650,000 (currently double the nil rate band of £325,000) tax-free.
If the Estate is valued at more than £650,000, anything above this will be taxed at 40%, and if the Estate is valued at less than £650,000, there will be no Inheritance Tax to pay.
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