Mander Hadley Logo

Coventry

Mander Hadley Solicitors in Coventry 024 7663 1212

Kenilworth

Mander Hadley Solicitors in Kenilworth 01926 857631

Cover all
  the angles

Related links Down Arrow

Make an enquiry Down Arrow

Read more articles in: Author, Blog, Private Client, Shivali Gill

The importance of writing a Will for cohabiting couples

As cohabiting becomes increasingly common in the UK, it is important that couples understand the imperative of having a well-drafted Will in place to secure their partner’s future in the unfortunate event of death.

Cohabiting couples, or those living together without a formal marriage or civil partnership, are not accorded the same legal protections as their married counterparts.

Legal protection for cohabiting couples

The common misconception is that living together for a long period gives rise to a “common law marriage”. However, the UK does not legally recognise common law marriages, which can leave cohabiting partners vulnerable financially and legally.

When a person dies without a Will (intestate), their assets, known as their estate, will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy.

These rules do not recognise cohabiting partners, meaning the surviving partner may not be entitled to any of the estate, leaving them potentially financially unstable or even homeless if their partner owned the property.

Safeguarding your partner’s future

Writing a Will enables you to outline clearly who should inherit your estate and in what proportions.

By including your cohabiting partner in your Will, you safeguard their financial future and ensure they are not left out in the cold.

A Will can stipulate various provisions, including but not limited to:

  • Property – Detail how you want your share of the property to be handled. This is particularly pertinent for couples who have bought a home together
  • Personal belongings – Specify who will inherit your personal belongings, also known as “chattels”. This can include items from jewellery to furniture and vehicles
  • Financial assets – Detail how your financial assets, including savings, investments, and premium bonds, should be distributed

Intestacy rules come into effect when an individual passes away without a Will.

According to the regulations, unmarried couples do not possess inheritance rights in the event of someone passing without a Will in place.

Here are some factors to consider:

  • In the case where both partners own a home as “joint tenants”, the property Will transfer to the surviving partner upon their partner’s death. However, if you are “tenants in common”, it should not be assumed that one partner automatically inherits half of the property.
  • If you have undergone a divorce or a dissolved civil partnership, it is important to note that your former partner can’t inherit under the rules of intestacy.
  • Should you maintain a joint bank account, the funds will be inherited and passed to the surviving co-owner.
  • Children may receive varying portions of the state in different circumstances. Depending on the complexities of the family situation, they may inherit the entire estate, leaving nothing to the cohabiting partner.

Protecting children’s interests

If you have children, having a Will is crucial to secure their future.

You can specify guardianship details and how you wish your assets to be utilised for their upbringing.

Peace of mind

Beyond the legal and financial ramifications, having a will in place provides peace of mind, knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of in your absence.

It eliminates the uncertainty and potential disputes that can arise when intestacy rules apply.

The role of a solicitor

It is advisable to consult a solicitor when drafting your Will.

A solicitor can provide professional advice and help to draft a will that reflects your wishes accurately and lawfully.

Moreover, a solicitor can help in reducing the amount of Inheritance Tax that might be payable on your estate.

As the landscape of relationships evolves, it is important that cohabiting couples familiarise themselves with the legal intricacies that govern their circumstances.

Writing a Will is not merely a prudent financial decision, but a gesture of care and responsibility towards your partner.

If you would like more advice on estate planning and drafting your Will, contact our Wills, Probate & Older Client Experts today.

Shivali Gill

Associate Solicitor - Wills, Probate and Older Client Services

I qualified as a solicitor in 2014 and have over 8 years’ experience in all aspects of Private Client work to include drafting Wills, preparing Lasting Powers of Attorney, Wealth Protection Planning, Tax and Trust matters.