Many people in the UK don't have a will, and it's surprising such an important aspect of living should be so woefully neglected. It's stated that more than 50 percent of adults in the UK haven't made a will. Given the turmoil and anguish that can surround untimely death, it seems bizarre so many people risk causing further upset by failing to deal with their estate, in the event of death. If death occurs, it is the law that makes decisions on property and capital distribution and not the surviving partner or any children.
One way for couples to take advantage of a simple cost-effective will writing plan is to make mirror wills. Mirror wills are wills that are virtually identical and designed to protect the surviving partner in the event of death. They are a useful will for any married couple, civil partnership or unmarried couple to ensure that in the event of death, the surviving member of the partnership will inherit the estate. Mirror wills can also be used to confirm that if both members of the partnership die at the same time, all of the joint estate is transferred to any children/other beneficiaries.
Taking out mirror wills protects partners, particularly if they are an unmarried couple and prevents any legal issues arising if untimely death should occur. Although mirror wills are generally just about the same, there can be slight differences incorporated within each will. These tend to be small variations such as additional executors.
Advantages of mirror wills:
Inheritance Tax can be avoided when a will is in place leaving everything to a partner. Nil rate of Inheritance Tax passes on to the surviving spouse mirror wills can cut the cost of making a will substantially, as they are generally a mirror image there is less work involved in drawing up a mirror will When it comes to avoiding Inheritance Tax on a legacy, as long as the estate has a value of less than double the current rate for zero Inheritance Tax, the surviving member of any couple will not be taxed. The current rate for Inheritance Tax is £325,000, so effectively couples can benefit from an estate of up to £650,000 when wills are in place.
The text of a mirror will names the surviving member of the couple as sole beneficiary. In this respect the other half of the couple becomes the executor of the will and inherits the estate. If changes are made to either will it is important that these are reflected within the second will. It is also important to name an alternative executor in each will, in circumstances where both parties die at the same time there needs to be a legal executor in place to handle the administration of each estate.
If you are one of the 50 percent of UK adults without a will in place, it's important to consider the ramifications this presents to your partner, children and extended family.