Mutual Wills and Mirror Wills

The difference between Mutual Wills and Mirror Wills explained

Mirror Wills and Mutual Wills are frequently confused. So what is the difference between them?

In the simplest terms a Mirror Will is one that reflects the contents of another Will.  They are used most often by spouses (or partners) who both intend to leave their estate to the other in the event that one of them dies, with the combined estates then being left to named beneficiaries on the second death.  As such each Will ‘mirrors’ the other, but crucially they can be revoked, even after the death of the first Will maker.

Mirror Wills should not however be confused with Mutual Wills.

While they are similar in that each Will reflects the contents of the other, a Mutual Will goes one important step further. It creates a legally binding agreement that the terms of the Wills must not be changed when one of the Will makers passes away. They are effectively an enforceable contract, with the surviving Will maker being legally bound not to alter or revoke their Will.

Mutual Wills are far less common than Mirror Wills.  While they provide certainty after death, they do not allow flexibility or testamentary freedom once the first party has died. They are also open to challenge upon grounds such as undue influence.

It is for these reasons that most solicitors will usually advise their clients against making Mutual Wills. Mirror Wills on the other hand are commonplace and solicitors have no qualms about drafting these for their clients.

If you are looking for solicitors to prepare Wills for you and your spouse or partner, or you need to appoint a lawyer who is experienced in dealing with disputes involving Mutual Wills, then contact our helpline for a free case assessment by one of our specialist lawyers.

Mutual Wills and Mirror Wills