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Why you really should make a will if you’re not married to your partner

PUBLISHED: 10:13 14 September 2018

Pic: www.gettyimages.co.uk

Pic: www.gettyimages.co.uk

If you’re not married and you or your partner dies, if you haven’t made a will, it can have devastating consequences. Jo Tinson, from Spire solicitors, gives legal advice.

Jo Tinson, Spire solicitors. Pic: www.spiresolicitors.co.ukJo Tinson, Spire solicitors. Pic: www.spiresolicitors.co.uk

Many couples are now choosing to live together before they get married, or are choosing to not get married at all.

It is currently the fastest growing family type in the UK, with 3.3 million cohabiting couples recorded in 2017.

However, even with this increase, cohabiting unmarried couples don’t have the same legal protection compared to married couples if someone dies.

When someone dies without making a will, the laws of intestacy will apply and your estate will be divided according to these fixed set of rules.

This means your estate might not be divided the way you expect, or want. If one cohabiting partner dies without leaving a will, the surviving partner will not automatically inherit anything- unless anything is owned jointly.

What happens to your house depends on how you and you partner own it.

If you and your partner own your home in equal shares as joint tenants, your property 
will automatically go to your partner if you die.

However if you own your home in equal or unequal shares as tenants in common, then the property will not automatically go to your partner if 
you die.

Instead it would pass into your estate and be inherited under the rules of intestacy.

This could mean that your partner would share ownership of their house with your relatives.

If anything should happen before either of you make a will, your partner can make a claim to your estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. However this can be a time-consuming and expensive process and success is never guaranteed.

For unmarried couples living together, writing a will is essential and is the only way of ensuring your partner will inherit anything you wish.

It will avoid uncertainty for your partner and helps to prevent the stress and worry for your family at an already difficult time. There is often the temptation to seek a self-written will, however we would advise against this option.

Whilst a will can, on the face of it, seem simple, there are a number of pitfalls for the untrained eye and unfortunately the impact of those pitfalls often do not come to light until it is too late. If you would like to discuss any points in this article further, please contact Spire Solicitors LLP on 01603 677077 for all your legal needs.

This column is not a statement of the law and we advise you to always seek legal advice.

Spire solicitors has sponsored this column.

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Caroline Culot

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I am the property editor in charge of delivering some exciting and informative content within Archant’s varied titles. We have 16-17 pages of stories, features and columns in the EDP Property supplement out every Friday free in your EDP so please don’t miss it.