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Mirror Wills

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What are Mirror Wills?

Mirror wills are identical wills that are executed by two different parties, usually a husband and wife.  Essentially, mirror wills are identical, in that each party names the other as the executor, and each partner usually leaves the same property and gifts to the other.  Basically, the husband and wife act as both beneficiary and executor to the other.

Usually, the husband and wife will leave everything to their partner, so that the property passes entirely to them if they should become deceased.  In the event that both partners die at the same time, their property will usually be redirected to their children. 

Are Mirror Wills also Mutual Wills?

Not necessarily- mutual wills are similar to mirror wills, except that mutual wills may contain additional terms.  These terms will usually place a condition on the way that the property can be distributed.  For example, the mutual will may state, “the property is to be distributed to my spouse on condition that…” 

Thus, the property will only pass if the condition is satisfied.  This is typically not the case with a mirror will, which doesn’t contain limiting instructions or conditions.  

Also, mutual wills usually contain a clause stating that the will cannot be changed once the person dies.  In contrast, a mirror will doesn’t contain such a clause. 

When are Mirror Wills Used?

Mirror wills are typically used in situations where:

  • It isn’t possible to create a joint will (i.e., a single will document where both spouses sign)
  • The spouses don’t have any children to name as beneficiaries, and therefore must name each other as beneficiaries
  • When the parties are in nearly complete agreement as to the disposition of the property upon death

Lastly, in a mirror will, it is common practice to name an extra beneficiary or executor in the even that something happens to the surviving spouse.  This can be the same for both spouses, or each spouse may appoint their own additional beneficiary.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With a Mirror Will?

Mirror wills may be a viable option for spouses and other parties who have the same interests with regards to their properties.  As with any will, the will document needs to satisfy all the requirements under law, and should be executed, witnessed, and signed accordingly.  Thus, it’s essential to work with a lawyer when creating a will, to ensure that the document is binding and enforceable under law.  An experienced attorney can also provide representation if a lawsuit arises over the mirror wills. 

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 08-03-2012 02:05 PM PDT

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