A legal loophole in wills is becoming increasingly common – and people need to be prepared for it.
‘Mirror wills’ are causing more and more disputes.
This is where two partners sign identical wills, leaving everything to the other initially, with assets to be split between their named beneficiaries after the second dies.
Mirror wills are a popular option for couples in a second marriage but with children from a previous relationship.
This is because the couple may leave everything to one another and then to their respective children, equally allowing children from both partners to receive an equal share of assets once they have both passed away.
Legal loophole in mirror wills
However, a legal loophole means that the surviving spouse can now alter or completely rewrite a will after their partner dies, diverting the deceased’s assets with no comeback.
This could leave children or grandchildren expecting a share of their inheritance completely left out of a will that they believed they were a part of.
Anna Kerr, solicitor in our Wills, Trusts and Probate Team said: “Issues with mirror wills are most common for those who are in second marriages, where each partner has children of their own.
“But with mirror wills, steps should be taken to consider what might happen should one die many years before the other.”
Steps you can take to ensure your assets go where they should
There are currently no restrictions on those who choose to alter their will after the death of their partner but you can take steps to ensure your assets don’t go where they shouldn’t.
One way is to create a life interest trust, to ring-fence an estate for the deceased’s children, but allowing the surviving spouse to continue living in your shared property until their death, when assets would pass to their children.
If you’d like help to create a will or trust, or need other advice on the subject, contact our Wills, Trusts and Probate Team on 01772 799 600.