A couple, who each had children from previous relationships, agreed to create Wills that left all their assets to each other and then split their assets evenly between their respective children once they had both passed away. 

Upon the death of the wife, the husband decided to change his Will to leave everything to his biological children only and exclude his wife’s children from her previous relationship.  This ended up becoming a messy estate dispute between the children, which could have been avoided if the couple had included some essential provisions in their Will as discussed below. 

Having a Will is important to ensure that in the event of your death your assets are distributed the way that you want,  Many people decide that making an agreement with their partner as to the distribution of assets when writing their Wills is a good approach.

If a couple chooses to create Wills that allocate their assets in an agreed way, there are two options available: Mirror Wills and Mutual Wills. When choosing between these two options it is critical to know the difference to ensure the correct distribution of your assets.

Mirror Wills

Mirror Wills are created when a couple decides to distribute their assets in the same way. Mirror Wills do not create a binding agreement between the couples, meaning that in the event that one party changes their Will prior to their death, assets must be distributed on the basis of this changed Will, not the prior arrangement.

This can inevitably lead to complications, as there is nothing to prevent a partner from changing their Will to allocate their assets differently to what they had promised. This may give rise to potential attempted claims against the estate from third parties in the future.

Mutual Wills

Mutual Wills are often used in blended families situations and/or where the couple has no children, and they decide and agree upon the method in which their assets will be distributed.

A Mutual Will is a binding agreement, as it contains a promise not to revoke or alter their Wills in a manner that contradicts the decided-upon method of the disposing of assets.

However, this promise is not always kept, as it is still common for one of the parties to alter their Will after the death of their partner in order to distribute their assets in an entirely different way.

The key difference from Mirror Wills is that the people who were going to be given assets from the Will that was changed can bring a claim against the person who changed the Will, or their estate.

In summary, Mirror Wills can be changed by either party without knowledge of the other party whereas Mutual Wills contain a binding agreement that prohibits any change in the Wills that contradicts the promise between partners.

If there is confusion around the differences between Mirror and Mutual Wills, or if you are unsure which option is right for you, it is wise to speak to a professional with experience in the area.


Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

Laurie Pallett / Matthew Binnie