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Mirror Wills: The complete guide

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Passing away without a prepared valid will can be a very huge mistake. If you pass away without a valid will, your estate gets distributed according to the intestacy laws of your state. Properties distributed according to interact would mean that your properties wouldn’t be distributed according to your wishes.

Apart from that, interact could be pretty expensive and cumbersome for your family and beneficiaries. Writing a will is very important for various reasons and for the consequences that comes with not writing it. This article is a guide on mirror will, a type of will that is mostly written by couples.

What is a mirror will?

A mirror will is practically a type of identical will that is written such that one partner in a relationship leaves their estate to their partner. It is basically leaving your estate to your spouse and your children and your spouse doing the same for you and your children. A mirror will is pretty easy to write as long as you and your spouse are of sound mind and above 18years.

Mirror wills are not for married people alone, they can be written by two people who have a civil relationship or who are in a relationship.

Usually, a mirror will leaves all the estate to the surviving partner and or children after the death of the first partner. What should be done to the estate after the death of the survivor or in a case where both partners die together, can be stated in the will.

How mirror wills work

You are in a civil partnership with someone or married to a person, the both of you can have identical wills written to ensure that the both of you are protected, irrespective of who dies first. This is basically how mirror wills work. The both of you have to give all your property and estate to the other irrespective of whether you have similar things or different things.

This way, both partners/spouses know that they are getting all from each other. Typically, when married people write a mirror will, they give all they have to each other and to their children. Meaning that when one partner dies, all that is in the partner’s name becomes the surviving partner’s and when the survivor dies, all properties become those of their children. In a situation where they don’t have children, they are allowed to state what should be done to their properties and how they should be distributed.

The wills in a mirror will are usually drawn at the same time but are not legally bound together so changes can be made by one partner, even without the knowledge of the other. One partner can make changes to the will after the death of the other and there wouldn’t be any consequences regarding that except stated otherwise by both partners.

Benefits of a mirror will

Deciding to draft a mirror will with your partner is a very important decision to make. Due to the nature of the will, you would have to completely trust your partner and you will also understand that if you die first, your partner has the chance to make changes to the will. Understanding the benefits of this type of will can be one way to ensure that you make the right decision.

  • Mirror wills give couples cost effectiveness. When a couple decides to take up a mirror will, they write identical wills with the same solicitor. This would mean writing both wills at discounted rates. It is basically like writing two wills and regarding them as one so they are written at discounted rates.
  • Mirror wills help beneficiaries avoid having to pay inheritance tax  when the estate is being passed onto the surviving partner. A mirror will gives the partners the benefit of transferring inheritance tax to each other. This means that if a partner dies, the surviving partner will take the inheritance tax that belonged to the deceased partner and this would mean not having to pay the tax when the estate is being passed to the other.
  • The nature of a mirror will ensures the financial protection of the partners irrespective of who dies first. Also as long as changes are not made by the surviving partner, the children of the couple are also guaranteed financial stability and protection upon the demise of their parents.

Complications that come with mirror wills

Like all things with benefits, mirror wills have complications that come with them too. They come with their own problems and understanding them would help you ensure that you take the right decision if you want to draft a mirror will with your partner.

  • With a mirror will, changes can be made without the other partner knowing that changes have been made. It is highly important that there is trust between both partners before a mirror will is drafted. You don’t want to engage in the will with someone who wouldn’t be willing to leave their assets to you, when you are willing to leave yours to them. In an instance where you state wishes to have some of your assets given to someone, your partner could make changes to the will if you die first and this would be against your wish.
  • Due to the fact that your assets have to be passed to your partner upon your death, there is a likelihood that some of your property wouldn’t be managed the way you would like it to be managed. In an instance where you have a business among your assets, if your partner is unable to manage that business, there is a possibility it would collapse upon your death.
  • In a situation where there is a blended family, mirror wills would be irrelevant and not function. Typically, when partners draft a mirror will, the plan would be to leave the assets for one partner and then for children they both have. In a case where one partner dies before the other and the survivor decides to start a new family, the previous will written with the previous partner would not have any relevancy and except the surviving partner decides to leave the old partner’s assets to the children, the wishes stated in the precious will won’t be relevant and standing.

Creating a mirror will

Like all wills, creating a mirror will is a very easy and straightforward process.  Depending on your choice and your understanding of what writing a will takes, you can choose whichever method you want to use to draft your will. You can decide to write the will yourself using a typewriter and a sheet of paper or you can choose to use a DIY will template online.

You should understand that both methods can be unreliable, especially if you do not fully understand what it takes to draft a will. To get a mirror will using these methods, all you have to do is change the name of the will and you have yourself an identical will that makes up the mirror will. These methods are pretty cheap but unreliable and might be declared invalid if not written properly, do ensure to be careful.

You can also decide to hire the services of a professional will drafting solicitor. You typically get a discount on mirror wills if you are working with a professional will writer. You should however understand that most times, the discount is given if the wills are completely identical and the distribution of the assets is straightforward.

In an instance where both partners have different values of properties that they want distributed, having completely identical wills might be difficult to achieve and this would mean the wills being charged differently. There are also online interactive services that allow you to create a will yourself. To get a mirror will, all you have to do is reenter the information in the first will onto another form and you get a discount for the second will.

Conclusively, like with other types of wills, it is important to completely understand all there is to know about mirror wills. Also you have to ensure that you trust your partner enough and that they are willing to do to you what you will do to them.

You should understand that changes made to a mirror will by your partner might not be known by you if your partner chooses not to inform you and this might mean that your assets don’t get distributed according to your wishes. Before you put pen to paper, be sure that you have read up and taken professional advice on mirror wills.