Mirror Wills explained
What is a Mirror Will or what are Mirror Wills? They are wills usually made by couples (married or unmarried) that ‘mirror’ each other. They are different from identical wills. Identical wills are exactly identical to each other e.g. the same person may be appointed executor in each identical Will.
With mirror wills each will may follow the same ‘pattern’ except like in a mirror each will ‘reflects’ the other. So a husband’s Will may appoint the wife as the executor but in the wife’s Will it is the husband that is appointed the executor.
Most common form of Mirror Wills
The most common mirror wills in Singapore are those made by a husband and wife where in the husband’s Will the wife is appointed as executor and the husband leaves everything to his wife. Then in the wife’s Will she appoints her husband as executor and leaves everything to her husband.
With such wills the wife’s Will may go on to say that if her husband dies first then her entire estate is left to their children equally (that is this part of the mirror Wills is identical).
Importance of both spouses making their Wills
So if a wife (but not her husband) makes a Will what happens to the wife’s estate will largely depend on who passes away first.
If the husband passes away first then the wife’s Will ends up determining what happens.
However, if the wife passes away 1st and her will leaves everything to her husband and he does not have a will when he passes away his estate will end up being distributed under the rules of intestacy.
So always remember that making your Will is not enough unless you ensure your spouse also makes a Will. You can get started on your wills here – https://ezwills.com.sg/get-started/.
Joint Wills vs Mirror Wills
It is possible for two persons to make a joint Will together. Joint Wills are extremely rare for some very good reasons.
With husband and wife mirror wills there are two wills. If a husband and wife makes a joint Will then there is only one Will. Once either spouse passes away everything is fixed and nothing can be changed.
So if a situation arises which neither had anticipated and if the surviving spouse wants to change the Will to cater for that changed circumstance the death of other spouse means it just isn’t possible. An example may be if a grandchild is born disabled after the death of one one spouse. If the surviving spouse wants to change the joint will to create a testamentary trust for the disabled grandchild it isn’t possible.
Are Mirror Wills a good idea? For married couples they certainly are and they are much better than a joint Will.
If you have young children if one of you doesn’t have a Will and your spouse passes away followed by you there will be no guardians. If your spouse names a guardian in his/her will but passes before you the guardian appointment has no effect because you’re alive.
If you both make mirror Wills naming the same guardian it doesn’t matter who passes away first. The person you chose will be the guardian when both of you pass on.
20 Sept 2020