Mirror Wills: We Look at What They Are and How They Work?

Live life to the full! Live, Laugh, Love! Live it up!

All well-known sayings, and all focusing on the fact that we should all live the life we really want to.  But one of the certainties in life is death and if we don’t plan for this event now – the fruits of our labour in life may be lost to us or our dependents.

Thinking about our death is without doubt uncomfortable and something that many of us procrastinate over.  But in many cases, the process of writing a will doesn’t have to be complicated. 

Our probate team often writes wills for couples simultaneously. These are called Mirror Wills and specify that in the event of death, each partner agrees to leave everything to the remaining partner, or to children if both die.

Mirror wills offer great benefits – they are uncomplicated and therefore can be less emotionally draining, thus removing a key reason for many couples’ delay in preparing a will.  They also protect the future of your partner in the event of your death, or that of your children. 

Inheritance tax allowances are also transferred from the deceased partner to the surviving one. This means that if the estate is valued at less than double the current Nil rate band there could be no inheritance tax to pay upon the death of the second partner.

The simplicity of Mirror Wills is certainly attractive if the prospect of planning your legacy is a difficult one.  However, there are also considerations that should be taken into account.

Care in later life
If after the death of one partner, the remaining partner needs the help of Local Authority care services, it is entirely possible that the Local Authority will take majority of their assets towards the costs of care – even though they were built up by both partners.  With the cost of Local Authority care averaging between £500 and £600 per week, this quickly eats into the estate and could leave nothing for children and grandchildren.

Other beneficiaries
With a Mirror Will in place, should the surviving partner enter into a new relationship, the new spouse or partner may become beneficiary in full, as opposed to any children or grandchildren.

In other instances, should the surviving partner have incurred debt then the inheritance may be seized by their creditors.

Protecting those you love

As joint tenants, each partner owns a 100% indivisible share of the home. So should one die, the other already owns 100% of the property.  By changing this so that each are a Tenant in Common, each partner owns 50% of the property. The Will then states that upon death, the 50% share of the deceased partner is passed to children or grandchildren but that the remaining partner can remain living in the home until death.  On this basis, 50% of the property cannot be taken by the Local Authority should care support ever be required.

The writing of a Will can be daunting, but in order to protect the fruits of your life’s labour, your partner and your descendants, it is essential.  It need not be daunting! We have an experienced and talented Wills & Probate team here at Robertsons who are ready to help!

Contact us via law@robsols.co.uk or call us on 029 2023 7777


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