What are the differences between mutual and mirror wills?


Mirror wills

A mirror will is one in which both members of a couple produce wills that are virtually identical. Each partner is free to amend their will subsequently if they wish. Typically, both partners state that their property will go to their partner if they die first; or to the children of the relationship or another beneficiary favoured by both partners if they die second.

Some people feel uncomfortable making a mirror will because of the possibility that, if they die first, the surviving partner will alter their will to favour a different beneficiary to the one they agreed. This might occur, for example, if the surviving partner argues with the children and decides to disinherit them; or gets a new partner and wishes to leave their property to them.

Mutual wills

This is where the mutual will comes in. The couple produce identical wills and agree that neither can amend their will without the consent of the other, including after one of them dies.

However, mutual wills are rarely recommended by solicitors as there are a number of problems with them. Although the surviving spouse cannot change the beneficiaries of their will, it appears that there is nothing to prevent them from disposing of the property in their lifetime, leaving nothing for the beneficiary. Also, it is not clear what happens if the surviving partner remarries (this normally revokes a will) or if they have more children who could challenge the will on the grounds that reasonable financial provision should be made for them.

Many people wish to leave their property to their spouse if they die before them, while ensuring that their children or other beneficiaries ultimately receive the property. There are legal mechanisms like trusts that can achieve this without a mutual will being necessary. It is always strongly advisable to use a use a solicitor when writing a will and this is particularly so in this area as there are many factors and potential changes in circumstances that will affect the ultimate destination of your property.

We work closely with specialist will solicitors who will be able to advise you on the best course of action for your situation. Call us on 0808 129 5761 or fill in the web-form and we will be able to help.

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