Mirror Wills

Estate planning is complex, especially without guidance from a legal professional. If you’re interested in establishing a mirror will or another type of estate planning tool, Medley Law Firm is here to help. Contact us online to get started

Everyone—regardless of the size of their estate—can benefit from estate planning. That being said, the specifics of an individual’s estate plan depend entirely on their unique circumstances, finances, and goals. 

In terms of legal documents, wills are among the most popular estate planning tools. They provide a basic roadmap for how your estate should be distributed among beneficiaries upon your passing and, when properly crafted, designate essential roles and responsibilities. 

For spouses who share assets and estate planning goals, creating two individual wills can seem like overkill. On the other hand, if one spouse fails to create a will and passes first, it can leave the surviving spouse in a precarious situation. One potential solution is to establish mirror wills. 

If you’re interested in creating a mirror will with your spouse or another individual, an estate planning attorney from Medley Law Firm can help. This article will explore the nature of mirror wills, including the steps to establish one, how they work, and their most notable benefits. 

What Are Mirror Wills? 

Mirror wills are legal documents used in estate planning. They are created by two individuals, typically spouses or partners, and are almost identical in nature. They reflect each other in terms of major considerations, including designated beneficiaries and the distribution of their estate.

Before creating this type of will, both parties agree to leave their assets to the same beneficiaries—typically to each other as the first option, then their children, loved ones, or other agreed-upon individuals or entities. Key points of mirror wills include: 

  • Mutual agreement. Both parties must agree on how their assets will be distributed in order to ensure a harmonious approach to estate planning. However, unlike with mutual wills, there is no legal obligation to maintain agreed upon terms. 
  • Spousal inheritance. In most cases, each partner leaves everything to the other in the event of their death, and vice versa. 
  • Secondary beneficiaries. Both parties must agree on who will inherit their assets if they both die simultaneously or within a short period of each other. These beneficiaries may be children, relatives, friends, other individuals, or organizations. 
  • Simultaneous creation. Although they are distinct and separate wills, they must be created at the same time to ensure continuity and likeness. 
  • Revocability. As two individual wills, each can be changed during their creator’s lifetime. However, changes should be discussed with the other party to maintain the mirrored aspect. 
  • Protection from intestacy. Mirror wills help ensure that two individuals’ assets are distributed according to their shared wishes, helping prevent the estate from being distributed under the laws of intestacy. 

Mirror wills help provide a clear, coordinated plan for the management and distribution of a married couple’s assets, simplifying the probate process and limiting the potential for disputes among beneficiaries. However, they’re not ideal for everyone. If you and your partner are considering mirror wills, it’s a good idea to consult an estate planning attorney about your options.

How Mirror Wills Work

To create mirror wills, two individuals will first need to agree on how they want their assets to be distributed upon their deaths. Typically, they will agree to make each other their primary beneficiaries and then appoint the same secondary beneficiaries, such as children or charitable organizations. 

Despite being almost identical wills, mirror wills are two separate legal documents, and the personal details and specific legacies of each may differ, respectively. Each must comply with the legal requirements of the jurisdiction in which they are created, and may require the signature of a testator or be witnessed according to state or county laws. 

When one partner dies, their assets are typically passed to the surviving partner. Upon the second death, the assets are distributed according to the shared wishes outlined in the mirror wills and passed to secondary beneficiaries. 

Each party is entitled to change their own will independently, should their circumstances or wishes change. Additionally, each will can be revoked or replaced by its creator at any time—without the consent or knowledge of the other partner. Although this feature allows for flexibility, it also requires a high level of trust between the individuals involved. 

Benefits of Mirror Wills

Mirror wills offer various distinct benefits, particularly for couples with similar views and wishes for how their assets should be distributed when they die. Here are some of the most notable advantages of mirror wills: 

  • Simplicity. When both wills reflect similar wishes, it is easier to manage and understand the distribution of assets. 
  • Mutual protection. Mirror wills ensure that each partner or spouse is financially protected after the other’s death. This is particularly important for spouses who depend on their partners for financial support. 
  • Harmonious asset distribution. By establishing their joint wishes, couples with mirror wills can help reduce confusion and conflict about the distribution of their assets. 
  • Cost-effectiveness. Drafting mirror wills is typically more cost-effective than creating two separate estate plans. 
  • Avoiding intestacy. Having wills in place ensures that a couple’s estate will not be distributed according to intestate succession laws, which rarely align with the decedent’s personal wishes. 

In addition to these benefits, mirror wills can offer peace of mind about how a couple’s estate will be handled upon their deaths. The clarity provided by these legal documents can help prevent conflicts among family members and beneficiaries during their time of grief.

Mirror Wills FAQs

Still have questions about mirror wills? The best way to find answers is by speaking with an experienced estate planning lawyer. In the meantime, check out the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions. 

• Do you need a mirror will?

Whether or not you could benefit from creating a mirror will depends on your unique circumstances, financial situation, and goals. However, if you and your partner or spouse both agree on how your estate should be handled when you die, you may want to consider exploring mirror wills as an option. 

• What are some complications with mirror wills?

Although mirror wills offer numerous advantages, they also pose potential complications. Because these documents can be changed and revoked without the other partner’s knowledge or consent, it is possible for a partner to be blindsided by changes to their spouse’s will. Additionally, mirror wills can exacerbate complex family dynamics in certain situations, such as those involving blended families or children from previous relationships. 

• Do I need an attorney to write a will?

You are not legally required to work with an attorney when drafting a will. However, working alongside a knowledgeable legal professional can help you avoid unnecessary pitfalls and ensure that your wishes are respected and carried out. 

Medley Law Firm: Top Estate Planning Attorneys in Pensacola, FL

Are you and your partner ready to create mirror wills? Approach your estate planning journey with confidence by working with the trusted attorneys at Medley Law Firm. With years of experience and unparalleled expertise in Florida estate planning, we have everything you need to secure your financial future and safeguard your legacy. Schedule your consultation today.

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Medley Law Firm is an Elder Law, Estate Planning and Probate firm in Pensacola, Florida that offers in-person professional services from Pensacola to Panama City and virtually across the entire state.

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