What is a Mirror Will / Couples Will?
A Mirror Will (also known as a Couples Will) is one of two Wills, created for someone who is married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting and want both Wills to be similarly drawn up, protecting each other if one or both should die, and also protecting any children. Although partners living together can just as easily have two separate Wills, making a Mirror Will can give reassurance to partners, especially in today’s more complex modern family setups, where the absence of a Will could mean your children or partner will not benefit from your estate.
Benefits of a Mirror Will
The following is a brief guide to the main benefits of drawing up a Mirror Will with your partner:
Your Partner Inherits Your Entire Estate
Writing a Mirror Will protects you and your partner’s financial future, particularly in situations where you are not automatically entitled to inherit the estate (e.g. if you are not married or in a civil partnership). The Mirror Will approach can ensure you or your partner will not be left without a home or financial security – an all too common occurrence where a person dies intestate. Careful planning for the future will ensure everything is taken care of, giving you peace of mind.
You Can Provide for Your Children
A Mirror Will usually includes how the estate should be distributed to your children should both parents die at the same time. You can also state who you wish to appoint as a guardian for your children, and trustees to protect your estate until your children grow up.
Inheritance tax can drain an estate considerably without careful tax planning, and a deduction will be made on your estate on anything over and above the inheritance tax ‘nil band rate’ (currently £325,000). The good news for married couples is the nil rate band is transferable to the surviving spouse. With a Mirror Will, leaving the estate to the spouse, the unused inheritance tax allowance of the deceased transfers to the surviving spouse. This amount is then added to the last surviving spouse’s allowance when they die (assuming the legislation is unaltered at that time). If the estate is valued at less than double the inheritance tax nil rate band, there will be no inheritance tax chargeable on the second partner’s death. By tax planning in this way, you can ensure the next generation can benefit as much as possible from your estate
You Can Name Additional Executors
Usually, a person will appoint their spouse as an executor (a person appointed to administer your estate). However, it is recommended to appoint at least one other person on your Mirror Will should you both die at the same time. This way you can appoint someone both partners believe to be trustworthy and honest to administer your estate for the benefit of your children. There is no need to appoint the same executor. However if you wish you may, appoint different executors to look after your estate. We would always recommend you appoint an executor who is younger than yourself so that their chances of surviving you are higher. We would recommend appointing a professional executor as one of your executors, as they are familiar with the tasks associated with the complex role, though the choice is completely yours. You can also mention substitute executors should your first choice die before you do, or if they cannot or do not wish to act as executor.
What if My Circumstances Change?
Family circumstances do change, and with Legacy Wills & Estate Planning, it is possible to review your Will at any time. It may be that you have separated with your partner, or your named executors / beneficiaries have pre-deceased you. The value of your house may have changed significantly prompting a re-shuffle of your bequests, or you may have more children. It is important to note that if you re-marry, your Will is automatically deemed invalid. If this affects you, simply call us, and we can discuss amending or re-writing your Will to fit your new circumstances. Planning for the future doesn’t have to be complicated., we can take care of all the necessary details, and advise you fully on how to make the most out of your Will.
What If I no Longer Want a Mirror Will?
You are free to change your Will at any time. Although your Will and wishes may be identical to your partner’s, your Will is yours alone rather than a joint agreement between two people. If you do wish to review your Mirror Will, we can help, and our service is always entirely discreet and confidential.