family law5 minute read

What do these words have in common: single, mirror, trust?

They are all types of Will.

As the saying goes, ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way’ but with the different types available, which is right for you? Making a will can be daunting and given that research by Macmillan Cancer Support in 2018 revealed that over 40% of adults in the UK aged 55+ do not have a will, this article explains what each type means so you can decide which kind of will is best for you.

Single Wills

A Single Will expresses the wishes of one person whether single, married, in a civil partnership or relationship. It suits a person with individual wishes separate from those of a partner. However, if you and another person wish to create a will with similar aspects, it may be best to consider a ‘two-together-will’ or a Mirror Will.

A Single Will records how and to whom you wish your belongings to be left, name who you wish to look after and protect the inheritance of any children you may have, as well as giving details of specific items you want to pass on.

Mirror Wills

Mirror Wills are designed for two people, most commonly couples, who have almost identical wishes about where they want their assets to go when they die. In drafting this type of will, two separate documents are created but the contents ‘mirror’ each other except for the name of the person and any individual personal wishes.

Ruth, the Head of our Wills and Probate team adds:

A Mirror Will is more affordable than producing two individual Single Wills. However, it is possible for either party to change or update their will without the other person knowing, and there is no obligation for individuals to keep the original will when the other person dies. So we advise our clients to carefully consider writing a Mirror Will if they have very different wishes to their partner, as in this case it is worth considering writing two separate Single Wills.

Trust Wills

The principle of a Trust Will is that when someone dies there is a formal transfer of assets (property, shares or cash) to a third party (or trustee), who then holds those assets in trust for the beneficiaries of the will. This type of will is most commonly used for people who want to protect their estate against possible care fees, or those who are married but have children from a previous relationship. For each individual’s requirements, there are different types of Trust Wills:

  • A Discretionary Trust Will gives the trustees the opportunity to decide which of the beneficiaries receive any aspect of the estate, when and how. This guarantees that any vulnerable people have help managing their inheritance, and it maintains protection over their potential welfare benefits. As such, this is a will best suited to anyone wishing to leave assets to loved ones who are lacking physical or mental capabilities, have a disability, or are vulnerable in any way, and may need assistance in looking after their inheritance.

  • A Property Trust Will allows you to appoint trustees to manage and look after your property. If there is property in the trust, it normally allows someone else the right to remain in the property. If there is money in the trust resulting from the sale of the property, then the trust would give the income from the net proceeds of sale to the individual beneficiary. By creating a Property Trust Will, you are able to guarantee who will benefit from your share of property, even if a partner changes their will or remarries after your death. Therefore this is suitable for any person who shares ownership of a property and wants to protect the value of that property against future risks.

  • Similarly, a Life Interest Will enables you to place all of, or part of your estate (rather than just the property) into a trust. The same rights forming a Property Trust Will are included in this type of estate, but it also means that any underlying capital is protected. Our clients choosing this type of will have the assurance that even after their death they can protect and assist loved ones with the responsibilities that come with inheriting assets.

When organising a will, it is always best to seek professional advice from a solicitor. The choice you make can bring you peace of mind that should anything happen, your affairs are properly taken care of. Speaking to a solicitor costs less than you think and makes sure that the will you choose will protect you and your loved ones, is lawful, and thorough.

Wills, probate, court of protectionIf you would like to talk through which option would be best for you, please contact our expert Ruth, in confidence by email or phone