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Ask The Legal Expert- Mirror Wills

View profile for Mike Downey
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My wife and I are recently married and are considering making Mirror Wills, since they seem the simplest option. I have an adult daughter and my wife has no children. Would a Mirror Will work for us?

Some couples do opt to file Mirror Wills because they can seem straightforward and they can be a relatively inexpensive choice. However, they have inherent risks, and disputes over Mirror Wills are increasingly common.

Most Mirror Wills feature two identical documents, which state that both partner leaves everything to their spouse first, and then to any children – so a surviving partner will inherit the whole estate, then the children or other loved ones will get the remainder of the estate afterwards.

Clearly, this leaves a lot to trust and to circumstance. Neither you nor your wife or partner can actually be sure that a remaining estate will be left to a child, or other loved ones, if the remaining partner decides otherwise. Circumstances, relationships, and feelings shift, and it is impossible to predict how you, or your partner, will feel about leaving an estate to someone chosen by someone else.

There have been cases where a partner who has written a Mirror Will has then changed it while both signees are still alive - there is no legal obligation upon them to inform their partner of the change.

There are other options. You might decide to leave a gift directly to your daughter in your own Will. Or you could opt to include a life interest trust in your Will, to specify how assets are divided when the remaining spouse passes away.

Blended families are increasingly common, and they bring complexities and pressures that can lead to people not being completely open about their intentions, when it comes to their estate. Similarly, people who have made a Will in good faith have had their wishes disregarded at a later date by a surviving spouse. These cases can be very sad to deal with and, often, can leave people with little or no redress.

It is very important, when making a Will, that you seek tailored legal advice, to ensure you are dotting all the necessary Is and crossing the Ts. This will help to ensure your wishes are adhered to and that an already stressful situation for your family is not made worse by potential legal disputes.

For specialist legal advice, call Mike Downey on 02920 855277 or email: mike.downey@jcpsolicitors.co.uk.

For further advice, please contact our specialist Lifetime Planning Solicitors in:

  • Swansea: 01792 773773
  • Cardiff: 02920 22 5472
  • Carmarthen: 01267 234022
  • Caerphilly: 02920 860628
  • Cowbridge: 01446 771742
  • Haverfordwest: 01437 764723
  • Fishguard: 01348 873671
  • Pontypridd: 01443 408455

This question is based on a hypothetical situation.

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