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What is a mirror will and should I write one?

There are many stages in life that might prompt someone to write a will. Common reasons can be that you have recently bought a house, became ill or gotten married. Mirror wills may be a term you have heard of when researching your options. But what is a mirror will and should you write one? Keep reading to find out more.

What is a mirror will?

Mirror wills are the type of will that many couples, married or otherwise choose to write. The name mirror refers to the fact that both people in the couple have the same wishes stated in the will. Most mirror wills are a way to protect a person’s partner and their mutual children with many stating that when the first person dies, everything will be left to the other and when the second dies, everything will be left to their children. These types of wills are very common across the country but that doesn’t mean that they are the best option for everyone.

Advantages of mirror wills

Mirror wills are a good way to save time and money for both the couple and their solicitor. Many solicitors can offer a discounted price when creating mirror wills compared to other will-writing services as the work and admin time is essentially cut in half. Another advantage of mirror wills is the fact that they are flexible and can be changed at any time, even if one member of the couple has already passed away. They can also be changed if you simply change your mind or someone important like an executor dies. This type of arrangement could be useful to young couples or those who have blended families and may want to change their wishes in the future.  If you are not married, a mirror will is a good way to protect your assets as your partner will be financially secure even if they are not legally entitled to your assets. Lastly, creating a mirror will is an effective way to avoid inheritance tax. In Scotland, the inheritance tax threshold is £325,000 but a mirror will help you avoid this. This works as when one spouse inherits an estate from the other this is not subject to tax and then when the other partner dies the full amount can be passed down tax-free.

Disadvantages of mirror wills

On the other end of the spectrum, mirror wills are not the best fit for everyone and you should do as much research as possible to find the best type of will for your situation. One of the main disadvantages of this type of joint will is the fact that both members of the party can change their specifications in the document without the other person being aware. The couple is not legally obligated to tell each other of changes so a mirror will require a great deal of trust in each other. This can lead to more problems if one half of the couple passes away and the other subsequently changes their will. Those who you thought they would be provided for or looked after may no longer receive the inheritance that they thought they would and this could lead to all sorts of disputes down the line.

What are my alternatives?

Nowadays a mirror will not be the best option for everyone in a couple but there are alternatives. Joint wills are now a very popular option, particularly for married couples. A joint will is still made up of a will created by each individual with their own personal wishes enclosed. It gives the couple more freedom than a mirror will as although many of their wishes may be the same, for example appointing a legal guardian for their children or to who their estate will be left, they may have some differing wishes they want to be known. These are often aspects such as money the individual would like to be left to a charity, funeral plans or special messages to be passed to family and friends.  Finally, if you prefer there is always the option to make completely separate wills with no relation to each other to ensure that your individual wishes are carried out without any or very minimal conflict.

If you need help writing a will or want more advice on the options available to you, get in touch with our team of experts today.