The Dangers of Mirror Wills

When looking to begin creating your Will, you may have heard the term mirror Will several times. A mirror Will is a form of Will that you can draw up with your spouse, but are they a good idea?

What Is a Mirror Will?

A mirror Will is a Will that is almost identical to the one that your spouse creates. The only difference between Wills is the testator, funeral wishes, and in some cases, witnesses. Mirror Wills allow couples to leave everything to one another in the event of their passing, and they commonly leave assets to their children as well. When one spouse passes away the other is protected, and when the surviving spouse passes away, the children will inherit the estate.

Mirror Wills can appear like the ideal solution to later life planning. They allow couples to distribute their estates evenly between their children and can be used by couples, whether married or unmarried. Despite this, there are some aspects to consider before drawing up a mirror Will for yourself and your partner.

Benefits of Mirror Wills

As mirror Wills are fairly simple, some people may find them advantageous. There can be some benefits for those considering mirror Wills with their spouse:

  • Protecting your partner – a mirror Will would allow your partner to inherit your estate upon your death, protecting their financial future and ensuring their comfort.
  • Providing for your children – drawing up a mirror Will can provide instructions for your and your partner’s estates to be left to your children upon your death.
  • Ease and cost – as mirror Wills are so similar to one another, they are often much easier, and in some cases cheaper, to draw up than individualised Wills.

However, there can also be a negative side to mirror Wills. A mirror Will may not be sufficient for those with more complex needs, such as leaving foreign property or businesses.

Drawbacks of Mirror Wills

Although mirror Wills sound easy and effective, they can have many drawbacks in the future:

  • Generalisations – one problem with mirror Wills is that they can be too general with your wishes. A mirror Will can be too broad when parcelling out assets and may not consider whether your partner is the best person for managing certain specifics. For instance, if you leave shares in a business, your partner will have to manage these shares. If mishandled, their value may depreciate, leaving your heirs with less of your estate to inherit.
  • Disinheritance – a significant problem with mirror Wills is the potential disinheritance of children. For example, if your partner remarries after you pass away, they may change their Will and leave their assets to other people, cutting out your children and other people to whom you wanted your assets to go.
  • Exclusions – mirror Wills do not reflect modern family values. Many people have divorced from their first partner and have step-children and children from previous marriages to consider. Mirror Wills can make it so some of your family members are excluded from inheriting your estate.

Another critical disadvantage to mirror Wills is that you or your partner can change them at any time without alerting the other. If you choose to create a mirror Will with your spouse, you must trust them not to change their Will.

Alternatives to Mirror Wills

If you want to create a Will with your partner, there are many alternatives to mirror Wills. One compromise is to make very similar Wills and make changes as and when you see fit. You may have specific gifts you’d like to make to those outside your family, or you may prefer to leave everything to your spouse and children for ease. However, with your own individual Will specified to your needs, you can avoid disinheritance and exclusions by leaving gifts and assets to people other than your partner.

Another alternative that can be highly beneficial is considering a Trust. There are several types of Trust that you may consider, including:

  • Family Protection Trusts – this is a broad trust that will help to protect your wealth. You can place property and assets into a family protection trust.
  • Protective Property Trusts – your home is gifted to this trust but allows you to keep on living in it.
  • Life Interest Trusts – This type of trust allows you to give your spouse your share of the home upon your death. Upon their death, the house will then pass to a beneficiary.

Trusts can help protect your assets from being used to pay for high care fees and allow you to leave your share of property and assets to your chosen beneficiaries. In the case of owning property, you and your partner will need to become tenants in common. This means that you will own 50% of your property each instead of owning 100% together. Even if you are making a very similar Will, creating a Trust to protect your assets can help to protect your partner in the future.

Trusts also have the added advantage of being legally binding, making sideways disinheritance much more difficult. Many people may not consider creating a Trust as they think it’s too complicated and unsuitable for their needs. However, this is not the case – establishing a Trust can be highly beneficial for many people, regardless of assets. Contact the expert paralegals at The Planning Bee today if you’d like to discuss whether a Trust would be right for you. We can guide you through the process of designing your Will and advise on various Trusts that may meet your needs.


Mirror Wills may seem like a good idea on the surface, but in reality, they are full of pitfalls that can affect your family and beneficiaries. There have been several cases of children being disinherited due to mirror Wills, which causes irreparable family rifts and damages their financial security.

Contact The Planning Bee today for a free, zero-obligation consultation for more advice on mirror Wills and their alternatives. Our experts are available to provide comprehensive legal advice on creating Wills with your spouse or partner and provide additional expertise on Trusts and Lasting Powers of Attorney.

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