We are often asked by married couples, civil partners and cohabiting couples to prepare 'mirror' or 'mutual wills' for them. You might suppose that mirror and mutual wills mean practically the same thing. Legally they do not and the differences between them can have far-reaching consequences for your estate.

What's the difference between a mutual and a mirror will?

Mirror wills apply where a couple make, broadly speaking, the same provisions. This may be to leave their estate to the survivor and then to their children on the second death. Mirror wills can be revised or revoked.

Mutual Wills create an agreement between a couple which cannot easily be undone, once made. The main consequence is that the survivor of the couple will be bound by the agreement they made with their partner or spouse following their death. Whilst on the face of it, this may seem fine, your wishes may change, particularly if your partner or spouse dies unexpectedly early or if you enter into a new relationship.

Does this mean it is not possible to make a new will after my partner's death?

Whilst it is technically possible, you will still be legally required to include the provisions of your former mutual will within your new will.

It is therefore vital to seek specialist expert advice when preparing your will, and to regularly review your wishes with the aid of professional advice. This will give you peace of mind that you remain able to cater for potential changes long-term.

- Megan Seabourne is a partner at award-winning, Watford-based law firm VWV.