Wills can be drafted in a few different ways. A single will is by far the most common – just a will, which is not dependent in any way on another will, and is sworn by one individual.
Single wills are simple, and suitable for almost everyone. However there are occasions, when couples have different wishes. And that’s where Joint, Mirror and Mutual Wills come in.
What are Joint Wills?
In contrast joint Wills are very rare, and involve having two people’s wishes in one Will. They are usually made by a married couple or those in a commited long term relationship.
Under a joint will, the survivor inherits the whole estate when the other person making the will dies. However these are single documents – but do provide for separate distribution of property on the death of either party.
These kind of wills tend to be rather long and complex, and we do not normally recommend them – not least because spouses or partners do not usually die at the same time.
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What are Mirror Wills?
Mirror Wills are also fairly unusual – they occur when two Wills have exactly the same terms. One of the owners can revoke their Will if they gain consent from the other person involved.
But mirror wills do have one important problem built-in – which you need to consider very carefully before opting for this kind of will.
In short, when one person dies, the survivor’s mirror will becomes irrevocable i.e you can’t, in effect, change it.
(NB technically if the surviving partner does change their mirror will, those amendments will have legal effect. However what is known as “a constructive trust” arises over the survivor’s property).
What are Mutual Wills?
Mutual Wills are very similar to Mirror Wills. However, a small difference is that both parties agree that the Wills cannot be cancelled, even if one of them dies. Documents should be present as evidence that the Wills are mutual.
There is a trust involved in setting up mutual Wills which stops them from being revoked. If one of the people with a Mutual Will marries after the other person involved has died, the existing Mutual Will is revoked. The trust is still effective if the living partner received property when the other partner passed away.
Click here to read more about making a will and why a valid will is so important
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