Does my Will have to mirror that of my Spouse or Partner?
Mar 23, 2018
A Will is personal. Its terms are for you to decide, draw up and formalise, usually in consultation with a lawyer. And that freedom to choose how your possessions will be distributed after your death is something that we, as wills specialists, work hard to protect.
The reality, though, for many couples – whether married, in a civil partnership, or simply in a relationship – is that there is a shared view on what should happen to assets. It’s common for a husband and a wife, for example, to agree that in the event of the death of either one of them the surviving partner should receive everything.
This idea of an agreed way forward is the basic premise of Mirror Wills. As the name suggests, these are two, legally binding wills that look (virtually) identical in that the individual wishes they set out align. It is usual for each partner to leave everything to the other, and for that survivor to be appointed the executor, on the death of the first.
As well as the benefit of certainty, there can be tax advantages to this sort of planning. Inheritance Tax can sometimes be avoided completely because of the possibility of transferring the unused nil-rate band to the surviving spouse or civil partner.
However, Mirror Wills also come with the potential disadvantage of the surviving partner being able to change their Will. This can mean that intended future beneficiaries (children of the relationship, for example, who were supposed to inherit everything following the death of the surviving partner) may not get their entitlements maybe because the survivor struck up a new relationship and went on to leave everything to their new family.
What is right for one person, or for one couple, may not suit another. That’s why it is so important to get good legal advice on the best way of planning for your future, and for the future of your partner, children and wider family. While Mirror Wills can be a great way of taking care of practical and financial arrangements, remember that your Will is your Will. You don’t have to have the same intentions as your spouse/partner. And it’s up to you to determine the way in which the things you own should be dealt with after your death.
For further advice on your specific circumstances, contact our Private Client team today who will be happy to help. Tel: 01264 353411, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our no obligation, online enquiry form and someone will contact you.
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