Mirror or mutual? The importance of selecting the right will

Making a will is one of those issues people put off for too long, perhaps not wanting to contemplate the time when they are no longer with their loved ones.

There are various options for couples, including mutual wills and mirror wills. The decision must be made carefully as they represent two different things.

It is vitally important to make the correct choice. Marriage break-ups and complex family issues can often muddy the waters and are important scenarios to consider when choosing the most appropriate will.

Mirror wills are the most common among couples who want to make sure their wishes when they die reflect the wishes of the other.

How do mirror wills work?

Mirror wills are useful to ensure that on the death of the first person in a couple, assets pass to the survivor and on the death of the second the remaining assets and estate pass on in a way that both of them have previously agreed.

A good example is a husband leaving everything to his wife and vice versa. On the death of the survivor, the estate passes to their children, thus mirroring the wishes of both.

Both parties are still free to revoke their will and make another. This could be t   case after the death of one partner and the survivor then remarries and wishes to make alternative arrangements for their new spouse and family.

How do mutual wills work?

A mutual will is less common and creates a binding legal agreement. Unlike a mirror will, the survivor agrees not to change their will.

Mutual wills can be complex legal matters legal principles and professional advice should always be sought before deciding.

They have a more binding effect and although they can be changed whilst both partners are still alive, on the death of the first, the terms of the mutual will become binding on the survivor.

Mutual wills are usually clear that the surviving partner has agreed to be bound by its terms. Any changes made to the terms of the will of the survivor after the first death will not take effect.

A mutual will is not revoked on marriage or re-marriage, and this is sometimes a consideration for those wishing to ensure a benefit to their children in the event of the surviving partner beginning a new relationship.

For help and advice on making a will, please contact our expert team today.

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