The number of unmarried couples living together has more than doubled from 1.5 million in 1996 to 3.3 million in 2017.
In many instances, these couples co-own a property and have children together, but simply are not legally married or in a civil partnership.
In such cases, partners may have diligently set up their homes and finances together, only to be left reeling once their partner has passed.
Either partner, or perhaps even both, may or may not have a Will, but because their relationship is not one that the law recognises, problems relating to inheritance may soon start to present themselves.
Legacy Wills wanted to shed some light on the “common-law marriage” myth and explain what happens to your estate and property if you die intestate – which is the legal term used when someone dies without leaving a valid Will.
If you read below, you will find everything you need to know about making provisions for your partner in the event of your death.
No Inheritance for Unmarried Couples Living Together
In contradiction to the general belief, the “common law” does not exist per se, irrespective of the duration you have been together and even despite having children.
If you are unmarried and you die without a Will, your partner will receive nothing as your entire estate will go to your blood relatives. The government explains this with the help of ‘the succession of family members’ law’.
People who are unmarried might believe that if they die, they can trust their family to pass on all that they owned to their partner and their children – if that is their wish, of course. But not making the necessary provisions could end up being a huge mistake that costs your loved ones once you’re gone.
If an unmarried partner were to die, all of his/her estate and property would go to their children in a trust and this is not a trust that can be accessed by the living partner.
This is why having a Will is so crucial for all concerned parties as it ascertains what goes to who, leaving no room for mistakes.
Make a Will to Safeguard Your Estate and Property
When drafting a Will, the key aspect of consideration for unmarried couples living together is the estate and property that they own. Inheritance of this property will completely depend on the way you have set up the ownership. There are two ways to go on about it:
Joint Tenancy – This is where both partners own the property equally and, in the case where one partner dies, the other half automatically goes to the other.
Tenants in Common – This is where both partners own percentage shares of the property and if one partner dies, his/her share will pass on to their respective family.
To make sure that it goes to your partner, you need to expressly name them in your Will as the beneficiary of your property.
Unmarried couples who live together and are left with either a property or the shares of a property worth over £325,000 are liable to pay inheritance tax.
Protect Your Loves Ones Once You’re Gone
It is indeed an exciting step to set up a home as a couple and concentrate on making a life together without worrying constantly about making it “official”. Marriage is not for everyone and in the modern world that we live in these days, many couples are choosing to not exchange vows at the altar.
Whilst there is no problem with choosing a less traditional route, failing to prepare for how that will impact the futures of everyone involved will indeed be a huge oversight.
There really is no excuse to not have a valid Will these days as there are so many options available. If you find that you are too busy to take the time to visit a solicitor, consider using a Will writing kit as they are quick and efficient to fill out, but most importantly, they will ensure that your loved ones are protected once you have passed.