The Taylor&Emmet Blog

WillPower: Mirror wills and first home purchases

Mirror wills and first home purchasesWills don’t have to be complicated or convoluted. This month, Chaanah explains how investing a little time and effort can save a lot of heartache…

My wife and I want to make wills that simply leave our assets to each other. Is that possible?

Mirror wills are almost identical documents that are usually drawn up for married couples, those in civil partnerships or people who live together.

Even though they are made together, they are separate legal entities, even when the content is similar.

Having mirror wills can ensure your partner inherits everything and protects your financial future. This is particularly beneficial if you are cohabiting, as unmarried couples would not necessarily be entitled to assets from each other’s estate.  

Although the wills do generally mirror each other, some of your wishes can differ, for example, funeral arrangements, which are a more personal decision.

As the wills are separate documents, either party can review or amend their version at any time. Trust, therefore, is essential, because you are under no obligation to tell your partner if you decide to make changes.

This is particularly significant if one of you dies early and the other remarries or has children with someone else. If they subsequently decide to alter their will, your assets could end up passing to someone you would not wish to benefit.

We recommend reviewing your will every five years, or earlier if your circumstances change.

My boyfriend and I have just bought our first house together. Our solicitor says we really ought to make wills – why is this and will they be expensive?

When you buy a house with a partner, there are two ways to structure the purchase:

  1. Joint tenants: This is generally the most common route and means you have equal shares and the equal, undivided right to keep or dispose of the property. If one of you was to die, the other would become the sole owner.
  2. Tenants in common: In this instance, you can each own a share of the property, but they do not have to be equal. When you write a will, you can specify who you wish your share to go to, or you can divide it up between beneficiaries. This gives you more flexibility over who inherits your assets.

Problems occur when tenants in common die without making a will. If the house is subject to the intestacy rules, you won’t be able to decide where your estate goes and this can be particularly worrying for the surviving partner, who could potentially be made homeless.

The only way to have complete control over what happens to your property after you die is to make a will. They are not expensive – for straightforward mirror wills, you may only pay around £250 plus VAT.

To find out more, please get in touch on 0114 218 4000 or email info@tayloremmet.co.uk

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