Should You and Your Spouse Have Mirror Wills?
When a married couple plans their estate, they often create identical wills, also known as “mirror wills.” This arrangement makes sense to spouses who want the same things when they pass away. Typically, each spouse leaves all their property to the other or to their children if the other spouse dies first.
Mirror wills may appeal to spouses with young children who want to make sure there are no discrepancies between their wills, particularly when it comes to who will be entrusted with raising the children if both spouses are involved in a fatal accident at the same time.
Mirror wills can also be useful for spouses without children who simply wants to leave all their property to each other initially or to contingent beneficiaries if one spouse dies first.
However, there are possible drawbacks about mirror wills. Just because you and your spouse sign identical wills doesn’t mean that you each commit to never changing them. Either spouse can change their own will in any way they wish, even while the other spouse is still alive.
For example, if you and your spouse each have children from a previous marriage, you might want your property to go to your own kids after you die. If your will provides that all your property goes to your spouse if he or she survives you, they could inherit everything you own and then change their will so that all their property passes to their children, effectively disinheriting your children from your previous marriage.
In this respect, a mirror will is distinguishable from a joint will, which can be changed only with the consent of both parties. A joint will is binding on the surviving spouse after the other passes away.
Determining which type of will is right for you requires sitting down with an experienced New York wills and probate attorney who can explain the relative advantages and detriments of each.
Get answers to your estate planning questions by contacting the Law Office of Maurice J. Verrillo, P.C. in Rochester, New York. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 585-563-1134 or contact us online.