Co-habiting partners don’t have the same legal rights as married couples or those in a civil partnership when it comes to inheritance – so it is vital you make a Will if you’re living with your partner.
To ensure your estate or that of your partner’s is distributed according to your wishes after you or your partner die, you need to stipulate what should happen to your assets in a Will. This is because the deceased’s estate will be distributed according to a Will or the rules of intestacy if there is no Will – and co-habiting couples are not recognised under intestacy rules.
Rules Of Intestacy
The rules of intestacy decide how an estate is distributed when there is no legally valid Will, and state that distribution starts with spouses or civil partners before moving on to children and more distant family members.
Co-habiting partners receive nothing under intestacy rules. In order to benefit, the surviving partner would need to undertake expensive and stressful legal action.
What About Joint Assets?
Some assets may pass to the surviving partner but it depends on the circumstances.
When it comes to property, if you live with your partner and are joint tenants of the property you own, then you as the surviving partner will automatically inherit the whole property.
However, if you live together in a property you co-own as tenants in common, then your deceased partner’s share of the property forms part of their estate and does not automatically pass to you as the surviving co-owner.
Why Make A Will?
Making a Will ensures your specific wishes are carried out after you die and enables you to look after loved ones when you’re no longer around to do so in person.
If you live with your partner but aren’t married or in a civil partnership, it is even more important to make a Will as you don’t have the same legal rights when it comes to inheritance.
By making a Will, you will be able to:
- Protect each other’s financial security for the future
- State who should inherit your assets
- Appoint guardians for your children
- Stipulate a plan for what happens after you die
- Minimise inheritance tax – there is no equivalent of the spouse allowance for co-habiting partners so you need a Will to ensure assets aren’t taxed twice, on your and your partner’s deaths
How We Can Help You With Your Will
If you co-habit with your partner and want to ensure you look after one another after you die, then you need to make a Will. This will enable you to financially protect your partner as well as provide emotional security when it comes to any children you have and peace of mind that your partner will inherit when you die.
Our specialist solicitors have experience of assisting with every part of estate planning including Wills, and are here to help you draft a Will that is right for you and your individual circumstances.