If you are considering having a Will drawn up and you have a spouse or partner, you may have had mirror Wills suggested to you. We look at what mirror Wills are and the potential problems with using them.
A Will is your chance to set out how you want your estate to be passed on. You can choose who you want to inherit and who you would like to deal with the administration or winding up process. Having the right Will in place can also give your loved ones reassurance and help prevent misunderstandings and disagreements from arising in the future.
What is a mirror Will?
Mirror Wills are two Wills with identical clauses, generally made by a married couple or life partners. You would both leave your estates in the same way to the same beneficiaries.
Couples commonly leave everything to each other, meaning that when the first person dies, the other then owns their whole estate. As both individuals have named the same beneficiaries, when the second person dies, the idea is that the estate will pass on to people that you decided together would inherit your joint wealth.
They tend to be used when a couple both have the same wishes and their situation is relatively straightforward. For example, a married couple with children can choose to leave their estate to each other and then name their children as secondary beneficiaries.
Should I have a mirror Will?
The main issue with mirror Wills is that the surviving spouse or partner can simply make a new Will in different terms or destroy the mirror Will. This could be done while both partners are still alive or after one partner has died.
If the survivor were to remarry, the Will would automatically become invalid, as all Wills become invalid on marriage unless they are made in contemplation of the marriage.
In addition to this, there is a risk that the survivor could spend the money, lose it in a poor investment or to fraud or have to put it towards care home fees.
What other Will options are there?
A better option is often to simply leave your spouse or partner a life interest in any assets you want them to benefit from. For example, you can leave them a life interest in your share of the home you live in. This will allow them to stay there as long as they want.
When they no longer need the property or they die, your share would pass to the beneficiaries you have named in your Will. There would be no scope for your spouse or partner to spend or lose the money. It would also not pass under the terms of their Will.
It is crucial to structure your estate in the right way for your loved ones and to protect your assets as far as possible so that they will provide security for your beneficiaries in the future. An expert Wills solicitor can discuss the options with you and ensure that you have the right Will for your situation and for your family.
If you would like to speak to one of our expert estate planners, ring us on 01634 353 658 or email us at [email protected]