Can a Surviving Spouse Change a Mirror Will?
When a loved one passes away, the surviving spouse may need to consider whether they need to change a mirror Will they shared with their deceased partner.
Mirror Wills are something many couples use to make their estate planning simpler. ‘Estate’ refers to everything that a person who has passed away owns and can include money, property, and other assets. But what happens if one partner has passed away?
In this blog, we'll explore what mirror Wills are, how they work, their advantages and disadvantages, and what options are available to a surviving spouse after their partner has passed away.
Whether you're a surviving spouse looking for answers or just curious about Wills and what happens next, Bell & Lamb Joynson Solicitors are here to simplify this complex topic.
The Basics of a Mirror Will
Mirror Wills are a type of Will that many couples use to simplify their assets. Let's break down what they are, what they're used for, and how they usually work.
What Is a Mirror Will?
A mirror Will, as the name suggests, is like a mirror image of your partner's Will. It's a legally binding document that's almost identical to your spouse's Will.
In a mirror Will, you and your partner agree on who will inherit your estate and how your affairs will be managed after both of you have passed away.
What Is It Used For?
Mirror Wills are commonly used by married or committed couples or civil partnerships who want to align their wishes in relation to future inheritance. They're particularly handy when couples have similar plans for their assets.
So, if you and your partner want to leave your belongings to each other, or to your children, mirror Wills can help ensure those wishes are fulfilled.
How Does It Typically Work?
In a mirror Will, you and your partner will each create your own Will. However, the content is almost identical on both of them.
You'll name each other as the main beneficiaries, and you might also specify what happens to your assets if both of you pass away simultaneously or within a short period of one another.
These Wills are often straightforward and easy to understand, making them a popular choice for couples that have a mutual agreement for making arrangements regarding the assets.
Now that we've covered the basics of mirror Wills, let's explore what happens if you or your partner want to make changes after one of you has passed away.
Can A Mirror Will Be Changed?
In short, yes - mirror Wills can be changed if circumstances in life change or the people involved want something different. It's important to update your Will the right way, with witnesses, to make it legal and avoid any complications.
If you decide to make changes to a mirror Will, we recommend you speak to a solicitor, as they can simplify this process while ensuring the legal aspects are followed.
What Happens if One of Us Passes Away?
Surviving spouses or partners frequently have questions about what occurs when one partner passes away. They want to know how the surviving spouse's rights and responsibilities are affected and how the distribution of assets takes place.
Surviving Spouse's Rights and Responsibilities
The rights and duties of a surviving spouse concerning a mirror Will depends on what the Will says. Couples use this Will to leave their belongings to each other when one of them passes away. The surviving spouse's typical roles and rights include:
- Inheritance: A surviving spouse will acquire what is left for them in the Will. This can include real estate, bank accounts, personal belongings, and other assets specified in the will.
- Executor: The surviving spouse might also be named as the executor of the deceased spouse's estate. This holds them responsible for managing and distributing the assets in accordance with what is stated in the Will.
- Debts and Liabilities: The surviving spouse may be responsible for any debts or financial duties of the deceased spouse. This depends on local laws and the specifics of the mirror Will.
- Guardianship: If the mirror Will includes provisions for the care of minor children, the surviving spouse may have the responsibility of becoming the legal guardian for those children.
- Challenges and Disputes: In some cases, the surviving spouse may need to defend the mirror Will against legal challenges or disputes from other inheritors or family members.
Seeking guidance from a solicitor such as Bell Lamb & Joynson is vital when making or handling mirror Wills to fully understand your rights and duties.
Challenges in Changing a Mirror Will
Modifying a mirror Will, like all legal processes, bring challenges and disadvantages, and it may end up affecting both Wills without you realising it.
When you consider changing a Will, there is a possibility that family disputes may arise. Any disputes about child custody arrangements will be referred to a family lawyer. Wills and probate solicitors will handle complexities such as disagreements on legal fees and future changes.
Legal professionals can help you navigate these challenges and ensure that any changes align with your intentions while safeguarding the interests of your loved ones.
Estate and Probate: What Is Probate, And Do I Need It For A Mirror Will?
Probate is a legal right that allows you to distribute the estate of a deceased person according to their Will. While probate isn't always required when dealing with a person's estate, it is required when dealing with Mirror Wills.
This legality often goes unknown or is not thought about despite its importance. Getting probate is essential, and a legal advisor can help you acquire it.
Seek Legal Advice Today
When dealing with a mirror Will, seeking advice from a reputable solicitor is essential. Solicitors can determine if probate is needed, assess the estate's value, and handle inheritance tax forms.
They can also help you understand how to protect your estate, ensure precise estate distribution, safeguard you against complications, and streamline the whole process to ensure efficiency.
When making changes, challenges like family disputes and legal fees can arise, making the process longer and more exhausting. In essence, mirror Wills simplify estate planning but require legal rights such as probate when handling another person's assets.
Whether you are planning for your future or you are in need of expert support, Bell Lamb & Joynson Solicitors are here to help honour your intentions and protect your loved ones.
With over 200 years of experience in family law, you are in trusted hands. Get in touch today by calling 03444124348 or emailing us at email@example.com.