What is a mirror will and do I need one?

When couples in the UK think about writing a will, the term ‘mirror will’ often springs to mind. But is it really the best option for you and your partner?

There are over 30 million adults in the UK putting off writing a will. One of the big reasons for this is that people assume everything will automatically end up in their partner’s hands if they die unexpectedly. The trouble is, that’s not always the case.

Here, we look at the main reasons couples need a will and how you can get yours for as little as £140.

Why do I need a will if I'm married?

If you’re married or in a civil partnership and die without a will, the rules of intestacy define what happens to your estate. In some situations, your partner may inherit everything you own, but this may not be the case if either of you have children.

Traditionally, there have been three choices for couples looking to have a will together: mutual wills, mirror wills, and joint wills. At Farewill, we believe our couples wills are the best choice for you and your spouse or civil partner, and we'll explain why in this article.

Here are 4 reasons married couples need to write a will:

1. Making sure everyone is provided for

If you die without a will, everything is divided up following the rules of intestacy – but this may not necessarily reflect your wishes. So if you want to be certain of exactly who will get what when you die, you need to write a will.

This is especially important if you have step-children you’ve been taking care of and treating as your own for years. If you die without a will, your step-children won’t be entitled to anything, so writing a will is a great way to make sure everyone gets a fair share.

It’s also important to make a will if your partner is the step-parent of your children. Under the rules of intestacy, the surviving partner would inherit your personal possessions and the first £250,000 of your estate, plus 50% of anything over that amount. The other 50% would then be shared equally between your children – but this could end up being a relatively small amount and much less than you want to leave them. It's also worth noting in mind that, when your partner dies, your children won't stand to inherit any of their estate (including the money you left to your surviving spouse). This is because step-children don't inherit anything under the rules of intestacy.

2. Appointing guardians for your children and pets

If you have pets or children under 18, you can appoint guardians in your will to make sure they’re in good hands if you both die unexpectedly. And even though this is incredibly unlikely, it’s important to prepare for the worst to avoid the risk of leaving your children in chaos.

3. Making an inventory of your estate

It’s true that your partner automatically inherits part (or all) of your estate if you’re married, but that’s only if they can find the money in the first place.

On average, it costs families £9,700 when someone dies without a will. This is usually made up of assets like pensions and savings accounts that went unclaimed. When you make a will with Farewill, you can make an inventory of your assets so your loved ones know exactly where to find everything.

4. Leaving funeral wishes

Unless you’ve had conversations with your partner about your funeral, they probably have no idea what kind of ceremony you want. And while you may not have strong feelings either way, a few notes in your will can save your partner from a lot of stress and guessing when you’re gone.

When you write a will using our online will writing service, you can include as much or as little detail as you want about your funeral. From choosing between a burial or cremation to picking individual songs to be played at the ceremony, you can do it all in just a few minutes.

Why unmarried couples need a will

In the UK, unmarried partners don't automatically inherit anything under the rules of intestacy as a married couple would. This can be difficult when property is involved, as one partner may be left having to repay the whole mortgage without the benefit of the other partner's savings.

You can find out more about wills for unmarried couples.

What are the rules of intestacy?

The rules of intestacy are a set of traditional laws setting out what happens to someone’s estate when they die without a will. This dictates what happens to your assets based on things like your marital status and whether you have children.

Leaving what happens to your estate and your loved ones is a risk that we don't think is worth taking. We've seen an increasing number of disappointed beneficiary challenges arise as a result of a lack of estate planning and presence of a will. At Farewill, it can take as little as 15 minutes to prepare a will and provide for your loved ones.

What is a mirror will?

A mirror will is a pair of wills for couples who want to mirror each other’s wishes. A mirror will is a pair of wills for couples who want to mirror each other's wishes. They are, in effect, identical wills, one for each person. Most commonly, couples will choose to leave everything they own to their partner, then their children.

For many years, mirror wills have been the go-to choice for couples in the UK. However, we believe that our couples wills are a much better choice. Here's why…

The truth about mirror wills

1. They're a way to make solicitor's jobs easier

Mirror wills were created for two reasons: to offer a discount to couples and to reduce admin time for solicitors. This allowed firms to offer a slightly more attractive price compared to the cost of two wills, while doing very little extra work in return.

With our online will writing service, we also offer a discount for couples, charging just £140 for both wills instead of the £180 it would cost for two individual wills. However, the extra benefit of using Farewill is that you have total freedom to write two, completely separate wills. And if you do want to mirror each other's wishes, you can choose to do that too.

2. Your children could end up being disinherited

If you write a mirror will and die before your partner, they’ll inherit everything you own. But if they go on to remarry and decide to write a new will, they could choose to leave everything to their new partner. This would mean your children end up inheriting none of the money you left behind.

3. They don’t reflect modern family structures

When people write a mirror will, they usually choose to leave everything they own to their partner, then to their children. But this only works if you have a very traditional family set-up. If you have children from a previous marriage or step-children in your current marriage, they may not inherit anything if you write a mirror will.

What are the best wills for couples?

In recent years, our couples wills have been growing in popularity throughout England and Wales. Here are some of the main benefits of writing couples wills with Farewill:

✔️ Leave your own individual wishes

✔️ Choose exactly what happens to your share of the estate

✔️ Make sure your children are provided for if your partner changes their will

✔️ Update your wills anytime in the future

✔️ Only £140 for both wills (compared to £180 for two individual wills)

How to write couples wills with Farewill

Sign up to our online will writing service and follow the simple steps. As you’re signing up, you’ll be asked if your partner also wants to write a will. They’ll then be invited to create their own account so they can set out their individual wishes.

On average, it takes couples around 15 minutes to write their wills with us. When you’re finished and happy with your wills, our experts will check them carefully within 5 days to make sure your wishes are clear. Then you’re free to print and sign your wills from the comfort of your own home.

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