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The information provided in this article adheres to English and Welsh law. If you do not live in England or Wales, different rules may apply.
Here’s our complete guide to mirror wills explained, where we outline the differences between a single and joint mirror will (also known as a mutual will), the cost of a mirror will and the pros and cons you need to be aware of.
No matter how old you are, it’s never easy to think about death, nor to worry about what will happen to your loved ones and your home once you’re no longer here.
It is completely normal to avoid putting plans in place, but making a will is one of the best and easiest ways in which you can protect the people you care about and have peace of mind that everything is taken care of.
Without a will, you will die intestate, meaning that your belongings and financial assets will be distributed in line with the intestacy rules as per UK law. If you have no family, children or friends at the time of death, your estate will be handed over to the Crown if you have no will.
Writing a will is the best way to prevent this from happening. In your will, you can state exactly what you want to happen to your estate after death, and you can declare who will be entitled to what proportion of what assets. This way, everyone knows where they stand and you have peace of mind for the rest of your life.
Many people assume that making a will is expensive and entails a long process, but at Unite Wills, we offer an online will writing service to help single people and couples write a will with ease, without costly solicitors and at an affordable cost.
If you’re unsure whether you need a joint mirror will or single will, you will need to consider the complexity of your situation first (family members, children, step-children, assets, etc.) to identify your own personal wishes and, therefore, whether or not you need a basic or more complex will.
You will also need to decide if you want to apply for an individual will or a joint will as a couple. You do not have to be married - you could be in a civil partnership or simply have been in a long-term relationship to make a mutual will.
A basic single will outlines the personal wishes of one individual that are to be carried out in the event of their death.
A mirror will, however, is designed to represent the shared wishes of a couple.
A mirrored will is a legal document which reflects the contents of another will, hence the title ‘mirror’, so there are essentially 2 almost-identical wills that state what will happen to the other (and their children) in the event of a tragedy.
The main ways in which they can differ is, of course, the name of the testator (the person who has written the will) and any specific funeral requests.
Generally, a couple may wish to get a mirror will if they want the following to happen in the event of their passing:
Instead of getting two separate wills that basically state the same requests, a mirror will is a more cost-effective option for couples if they both want the same things.
A mirror will is a good way of making sure your estate remains within your blood-related family.
Read more: Bloodline Wills Explained
It is vital you understand that while a mirror will reflects the same wishes as those stated in your partner’s will, each will remains separate to the other - they are not combined legal documents.
Therefore, if any significant changes occur in your life, such as a birth, divorce, death or a change of mind, you must update your will and so must your partner. This is to ensure both wills state identical wishes for their estate and children (except funeral preferences).
Generally, you can simply update your will if only minor changes have taken place. If your situation has changed significantly, however, you may need to write an entirely new will. In this case, any old wills must be completely destroyed to make sure no disputes arise later on.
As both wills are separate legal documents in the names of two different individuals, both partners are legally entitled to change their mirror will whenever they wish, despite the fact that you initially may have had the same wishes.
Remember that your partner is not legally obligated to tell you about any changes made to their mirror will, so if you are considering writing one, it is important that you fully trust your partner and remain aware that they are at liberty to change its contents at any time.
For example, if you passed away first and your partner has children later on with someone they remarry, it is likely that your partner has full control over your estate. With this, there is always the risk that they may later pass it on to other people - perhaps people you do not want to inherit your assets - unless, of course, you fully trust that this won’t happen.
One way in which you can avoid your partner passing on any of your estate to people you don’t want, you can set up a trust in your mirror will.
Getting a mirror will with a trust is simply an additional arrangement where you can give some or all of your estate to the trust and appoint a trustee to be in charge of the trust in the event of your death.
A trust includes a beneficiary (or beneficiaries) who is/are legally entitled to the contents of the trust - whether that’s a portion of money, bank account or property, etc. - it is the trustee’s duty to make sure that the beneficiaries receive what is stated in the trust, as per the instructions stated.
The trustee, who will manage the trust when you die, must adhere to the exact terms as stated in the trust, depending on what the testator wished for.
Learn more about trusts in wills here.
The cost of a standard basic single will with Unite Wills is free to Unite the Union members, and we offer a discounted price to members who want to make joint mirror wills as a couple, costing £34.99.
People who are not members of Unite can still get a joint will with their partner at an affordable price of £49.99, where a single will costs £39.99, which is a much cheaper than the same services offered by solicitors.
Our costs include the extra support of having your will reviewed by our professional advisors, which will ensure your will is valid and leaves no room for legal dispute.
To get an idea of what you get for your money, you can get a very similar service with other renowned companies, such as Which? who offers a Mirror wills service at a cost of £156. This does not, however, include the help of a professional adviser to review the will to ensure it’s legally binding.
There are many benefits to getting a mirror will, while the few risks involved also mean there may be some factors which many people may see as potential drawbacks. Having said this, if you put the right plans in place to protect your estate, this can be easily avoided.
The pros of mirror wills:
The cons of mirror wills:
The process of making a mirrored will according to UK law is very similar to that of a simple basic will. First, you will need to register with Unite Wills to create a free account and you can begin your will application straight away.
For more information about the things you’ll need to consider before writing your mirror will, read our guide Making a Will From Home or Work Without a Solicitor.
To get started on your will now, simply tap the button below. And for additional services, like probate, appointing an executor, setting up a lasting power of attorney and storing your will, read our related guides online.
* Price is for a basic will which may not be suitable for everyone. Being a member of Unite the Union entitles each member to discounted pricing. Members must have been a member for at least 13 weeks to qualify and must not be in arrears with their subs. Complex Wills involving specific financial transactions or Trusts for example, will require further advice from our team and additional fees will apply.