A mirror Will is one which a couple, usually married, prepare at the same time, where each separate Will is a reflection of the other. Typically, a wife will leave her entire Estate to her husband, but if he dies before her, then to their children. This is mirrored in the husband’s Will and often suggests the Will cannot be changed or overturned.
This is not true, in that their Wills can be revoked at any time and often happens after one of them dies. Case law confirms that a disappointed beneficiary, who would have benefited from the Estate of the survivor of the two individuals who had prepared the mirror Wills, (normally children), can only recover their rightful share if there is evidence of an agreement between the two mirror Will makers, not to revoke. Oral evidence from the disappointed beneficiary is unlikely to be enough to overturn the Will. Independent evidence would be the words themselves in the mirror Wills, that they have each been drafted to reflect the other and with the agreement that it should not be revoked or changed.
Therefore there must be evidence of an agreement not to revoke or change the Will. This does not prevent it from being changed or revoked, but does provide the disappointed beneficiary with the ability to enforce their right to a share of the Estate, which was promised to them.
A contested Will allows the disappointed beneficiary to enforce the agreement within mirror Wills. In contentious probate matters, the Court will regard the survivor of the two individuals who agreed not to change their Wills, as a trustee and the property as a Trust, which was supposed to be subject to the agreement.
The disappointed beneficiary can sue the Estate of the last survivor of two individuals who had agreed not to revoke their Wills (but had done so), with a view to claiming back the property.
If you are named as a beneficiary in a Will, which was subsequently changed on the death of the first mirror Will writer, then we can provide advice as to whether the mirror Will can stand revoked, or whether you have a claim in a contentious probate matter.
For more information please call 01702 338338 / 01277 500123 / 0208 049 5888, or email us on [email protected] for an appointment at any of our offices, in Southend-on-sea, Benfleet, Billericay and London.
This article does not necessarily deal with every important topic or cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not designed to provide legal or other advice. If you require specialist advice on this topic, please contact us to discuss how we may assist you.