What is a mirror will?

You may be thinking about making a Will and have heard the term “mirror Wills” or “joint Wills”. If so, you have come to the right place. In this article we will look at what they are, what they achieve and also other alternatives that may suit your needs much better.

Topics to be answered in this article

What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document usually prepared with help from a will or probate solicitor that confirms your wishes as to how your money, property and possessions are distributed after your death to ensure that it goes to the people you want. It allows for you to choose your Executors (the people who would administer your estate) and appoint guardians if you have children under the age of 18.

What is a mirror Will?

Mirror Wills are two separate Wills that are practically identical to that of your spouse or partner (married or not), except for the name of the individual and potentially the persons funeral wishes. An example of mirror Wills would be leaving everything to each other and then whoever passes away last, everything would be left to children.

Are mirror Wills legally binding?

Each mirror Will is a legally binding document if it has been executed correctly. However, an individual has the freedom to revoke a Will and make a new one as many times as they like during their lifetime and whilst they have capacity.

Can mirror Wills be changed?

Mirror Wills can be changed as anyone has the right to make a new Will (if they have capacity). An example of this is if you are in a second marriage/relationship and have children from a previous marriage/relationship, those children may be disinherited as the survivor of you could change their Will and leave it to whomever they wish. This could lead to a dispute and make matters contentious.

Another example is if the survivor of you were to remarry. Marriage revokes a Will and your estate may pass to their new spouse.

What other options are there to ensure my legacy goes where I want it?

There are other Will types that perhaps may suit your personal needs. To retain control over your estate after your death and guarantee your chosen beneficiaries receive their inheritance, here are some Will types that will ensure this: –

1. Life Interest Trust

A Life Interest enables you to leave the survivor a right of occupation of any property you may have rent free and a right to any income from any invested capital, up to the survivors date of death or earlier if the Trust is terminated. The imperative part to this Will type is that the survivor does not own the assets in the Trust, they are just receiving a benefit from them. The assets are protected so they can pass to the chosen and ultimate beneficiaries once the survivor has passed away.

2. Discretionary Trust

A Discretionary Trust is where your money, property and other assets are left in a Trust. The Trust is then managed by appointed Trustees who decide who the beneficiaries of your estate are and when and how they should receive the inheritance from the Trust. Your Trustees can be guided by a letter of wishes written by you, but this is only a guidance. Ultimately, it is down to the Trustees and it is imperative that you trust them implicitly to carry out your wishes.

How can Goughs help?

Mirror Wills can have many limitations and may not be the correct Will type for you. Here at Goughs we are able to guide you and ensure that you have the correct Will in place for your needs. Structuring your Will in the best way possible is imperative to ensure your wishes are carried out. Please do get in touch if you would like further information and advice, we are always happy to help.

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Author Bio

Olivia Clifford

I joined the Private Client Department at Goughs in June 2017 as a Legal Secretary and began my studies for Cilex in March 2021.  I am currently studying in my personal time whilst working full-time.   I started my Trainee journey in January 2023.

I am very understanding and empathetic towards our clients as I understand that the legal process can be quite daunting for them. I take great satisfaction from making our clients feel comfortable and guiding them through a challenging time.

In my personal life I enjoy spending time with friends and family, and also long dog walks in the countryside.

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