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Read more articles in: Amy Hillson, Blog, Private Client

Cohabitation and Inheritance: What rights do you have?

Cohabiting couples are becoming more common each year as the fastest growing type of family seen in the figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Despite this, cohabitation can create some complications in relation to inheritance and can cause disputes regarding the estate of a deceased partner in the couple.

It is vital that a Will is made in all circumstances but when it comes to cohabiting couples, it is possibly even more important.

Creating a Will will ensure that your estate is passed on to your loved ones and can give you peace of mind for the future and for your partner as well.

What happens if there is no Will?

If you were not married to your partner and they have died without a Will or one was thought to be made but it cannot be located, then the rules of intestacy will decide what happens to the person’s estate.

Unfortunately, cohabiting partners often believe that they are automatically entitled to their partner’s estate as they lived together but in reality, the rights of Cohabiting Couples are minimal.

There is no rule under intestacy that entitles you as a cohabiting partner to inherit anything from the estate of your deceased partner regardless of how long you were together or if you had planned to marry/were engaged.

What if we owned property together?

If you owned property together, you could be entitled to inherit your partner’s assets.

Additionally, living together doesn’t automatically create joint assets.

Items purchased using joint funds will be classed as joint assets but if anything was purchased with the understanding that it was jointly owned but with no evidence of such, it can be difficult to confirm.

This will then result in a difficult process to try to receive any assets that were shared between you and your partner.

Another way that you may have a claim to your partner’s estate is if your partner had insurance cover and named you as the receiving beneficiary under those policies.

You can make a claim under the Inheritance Act to gain financial provisions from your partner’s estate but this requires:

  • Living in the same household
  • As the husband or wife
  • For a period of two years directly before the date that the deceased died

Ultimately without a Will, the process to inherit any of your deceased partner’s estate will be expensive and upsetting for a surviving partner to do and will not necessarily be a successful claim.

For advice on this and on making a Will, contact us today.

Amy Hillson

Paralegal – Wills and Powers of Attorney

I started my professional career with Mander Hadley when I joined the firm in March 2021, having completed a Law Degree LLB (Hons) at Birmingham City University.