It’s important for cohabitants to keep an up to date Will to include their partner, since living together as an unmarried couple does not automatically grant you the right to inherit each other’s estate. However, according to the National Consumer Council, only 17% of cohabitants have made a Will – if you’re one of the remaining 83%, book an appointment with your family law solicitor and get yours sorted ASAP!
Under current laws, unmarried couples are not entitled to each other’s estate unless they are specifically named on their partner’s Will. If you don’t have a Will and the worst should happen, your other half would not automatically receive any of your assets or property, as cohabitants are not included in intestacy laws.
If your partner has children who are not biologically related to you, and you have not formally adopted them, it is even more important to update your Will to make sure they are protected and cared for in the event of your death.
A spokesperson from the Law Society explains:
“It is particularly important to make a Will if you are not married. […] This is because the law does not automatically recognise cohabitants as having the same rights as husbands, wives and civil partners. As a result, even if you’ve lived together for many years, your cohabitant may be left with nothing if you have not made a Will.”
If you own property with your partner, it’s essential to provide legal documentation to support each of your claims and shares. A Declaration of Trust is a very useful document to draw up which establishes your individual shares in a property and can be drawn up alongside a will or cohabitation agreement.
It’s usually very easy and straightforward to make a Will with the help of an experienced solicitor, and by doing so you will be able to:
- Ensure your loved ones are financially secure
- Detail who you wish to leave property and assets to, and how you wish to divide them
- Choose legal guardians for your children, or other dependants
- Relieve some of the stress your loved ones might experience while dealing with legal issues after your death
- Ensure that your partner does not have to pursue litigation to make a claim on assets you wish them to inherit