It often makes sense for couples to look at making important legal documents such as wills or powers of attorney together. This is especially likely to be the case if the couple in question share children, own property together, or wish to appoint each other as legal representatives or beneficiaries. Choosing and meeting a specialist solicitor together is often the most time and energy efficient solution.
In these situations, people often think it’s possible to make a joint Will or LPA. This isn’t really the case, as legal documents have to be made individually: they can’t be shared. However, solicitors can create a set of legal documents for the couple that complement each other perfectly. Solicitors often call these ‘mirror’ documents.
For example, if a couple chose to make mirror wills, partner A’s Will might appoint partner B as their executor and leave everything to partner B and the children they share. Partner B’s Will would be the same in reverse: appointing partner A as their executor and leaving everything to partner A and the children.
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Do couples have to have mirrored legal documents?
Though mirrored documents are often a practical and affordable solution, there’s absolutely no requirement for couples to have them. After all, mirrored documents only work if both individuals involved have exactly the same wishes for how their affairs should be managed in the future.
When you make an important legal document such as:
- An Advance Decision (to make your wishes clear about future medical care or DNR orders).
- A Lasting Power of Attorney (to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf should you no longer be able to).
- A Will (to make your wishes clear for how your estate should be managed and distributed in the event of your death).
it’s absolutely vital to make your own decisions. No one should ever pressure you or use undue influence to encourage you to make these choices, not even if that person is your spouse, civil partner or life partner.
What if you want to make a different decision from your partner?
Though couples often do choose to make legal documents at the same time, they don’t always have the same aims and objectives. Often, individuals in a relationship want very different things, whether that’s due to having children from previous relationships, differing financial circumstances or even separate religious beliefs.
In these cases, you can still choose to meet with a solicitor together. Your solicitor will allow time for each of you to talk through your wishes and will create individual legal documents that reflect these separate requirements.
However, there may be situations where you don’t want to discuss your legal documents in front of your partner and wish to meet with the solicitor separately. There are also cases where you may wish to meet with the solicitor along with your partner in the first instance, then return for a separate meeting later, perhaps unbeknownst to your partner.
If, for any reason, you do not want your partner to know what you have recorded in a legal document, your solicitor will be able to arrange for the document to be witnessed and stored discreetly.
It’s important to note here that solicitors have a responsibility to advise you on legal matters and keep those legal matters confidential. It is not a solicitor’s place to make any judgements on your decisions or put pressure on you to change them. All situations are unique and a good solicitor will recognise this and will offer a bespoke service tailored around each couple and their needs.
How Roche Legal can help
We are reassuring experts who can help you with a wide range of legal matters. Please get in touch if you need legal support with:
- Trusts and Estate Planning
- Probate and Estate Administration
- Contested Probate and Will Disputes
- Powers of Attorney
- Court of Protection matters
- Presumption of Death Applications
- Missing Persons Guardianship Applications
Need further help?
If you would like to discuss these issues further, please contact us.