Mirror Wills Explained – The Pros and Cons
Writing a will is one of the most important things you can do in order to protect both your assets and your loved ones when you pass away.
If you are married, in a civil partnership, or are simply in a long-term relationship, you may be interested in making a mirror will – a type of will that can be created to be near-enough identical to your partner’s, ensuring that you both protect one another and any children or dependants you may have.
Under certain circumstances, mirror wills can be cheaper, more time-efficient and safer than making two separate single wills, so they’re certainly worth considering if you think they might suit you.
Here, we explain what mirror wills are, how they work, their pros and cons, and where you can get yours from.
What is a mirror will?
Mirror wills – also known as mirror image wills, mutual wills and joint wills – can help you and your partner protect your assets and your loved ones (perhaps your children or any other dependants) in the event of your death.
What is a will? A will is a legal document that allows you – the testator – to express your final wishes regarding the distribution of your estate and the care of your children when you pass away.
You are able to legally specify a number of provisions within a will, and one of its most important benefits is that it helps ensure that your assets are not distributed in line with the pre-determined rules of intestacy, which would be the case if you passed away without a will.
Read more: A Guide to Wills in the UK
What are mirror wills? Mirror wills are a pair of nearly identical wills, often set up by couples (unmarried, married or civil partners) to make sure that their estate is distributed in the same way if either should pass away.
Mirror wills explained: how do they work?
Mirror wills are set up in a similar way to single wills – you can do so online, through a solicitor, or yourself using a DIY template.
Couples usually make a mirror will in order to leave their estate to their surviving partner when they pass away, and then to their children or dependants thereafter – which is why they are sometimes referred to as bloodline wills.
If you and your partner have similar wishes regarding your inheritance, then you may want to consider getting mirror wills as a way of making sure that your assets are handled in the same way if one of you dies.
It can also be cheaper and more time-efficient than making two separate single wills, as you are essentially halving the administrative work that needs to be done.
Can mirror wills be changed?
Once the mirror wills have been written, either party is free to change their individual will at any time.
Although the couple’s wishes may be identical at the time of writing the will, each party is legally entitled to make changes to their respective wills if they feel it is necessary, and they are not legally obligated to inform you.
Is a mirror will best for me and my family?
Mirror wills can be perfect for certain couples who have similar wishes regarding their child’s care and the distribution of their estate after their death.
But while they offer many benefits, they’re not right for everyone and you should always weigh-up your options before deciding to opt for mutual wills rather than separate single wills.
You should look at the pros and cons of mirror wills below and then decide for yourself, as everyone’s situation is different and your circumstances will determine whether or not they are right for you.
Mirror wills: the pros and cons
There are many advantages and some disadvantages to making mirror wills, as explained below.
The benefits of joint wills
The benefits of making a will include that it provides the invaluable peace of mind in knowing that your loved ones and your estate will be protected when you pass away.
You are able to choose how your assets will be shared out and can specify a range of legally-valid provisions, including issues relating to your funeral, trusts and guardianship orders.
Mirror wills also offer some additional benefits, including the following:
Your loved ones are financially protected
Mirror wills are often cheaper than setting up two separate ones
You save time by setting up identical wills
A good advisor will help you limit your inheritance tax obligations
You can nominate legal guardians to take care of your children
You can appoint an additional executor to protect the inheritance in the event that both you and your partner die at the same time.
For more information, read our guide to the benefits of writing a will in the UK.
Disadvantages of mirror wills
There are some potential risks associated with mirror wills; one of which being that they can be changed at any time.
It is also important to remember that, in the eyes of UK law, your partner does not have to tell you about any changes made to their mirror will, and vice versa, so you will both need to have a strong level of trust with each other.
Although it is uncommon, some people have been left without the inheritance that they thought they were entitled to as a result of mirror wills being changed after one party’s death.
Stuart’s father, William, remarried in his 60s and set up new mirror wills with his wife, Dorothy.
The mirror wills were made to provide for the surviving partner and then each child from their previous marriages (including Stuart) equally thereafter.
When William passed away, his estate was inherited by Dorothy, as expected.
Ten years later, Dorothy passed away and – to Stuart’s surprise – the entire estate was handed over to Dorothy’s only son, rather than being shared equally between the children of both partners.
Unbeknown to Stuart, Dorothy had changed her will when William passed away and had disinherited Stuart, leaving all of the assets to her own son and leaving Stuart without the inheritance his father intended to leave him.
Dorothy was legally within her rights to do this, which highlights one of the key risks concerning mirror wills.
How much do mirror wills cost?
The cost of your mirror wills depends on various factors, including its complexity and the company you use to make it.
You can use a mirror wills template and do it for free, but this requires a lot of time and effort, and any legal mistakes made could lead to your will becoming invalid in the event of your death.
Here’s the cost of writing mirror wills with three popular companies, Wills.Services, Co-op Legal Service, and Slater + Gordon:
Single will cost
Mirror will cost
£29.99 (limited time offer)
£49.99 (limited time offer)
Slater + Gordon
Co-op Legal Service
Prices are correct as of June 2020.
As shown above, the cost of writing a mirror will is cheaper than making two separate single wills with each of the companies, so there is money to be saved.
Read more: How Much Does it Cost to Write a Will?
How to get your mirror wills online
One of the best ways to write mirror wills is to do so online using a professional will-writing service.
You can set it up in just three easy steps:
Complete the online application form (guidance provided along the way)
Wait for advisors to process your will and check over it to make sure it’s legally-binding
Once your will is checked, your will is posted for you to witness, sign and return for storage