People that choose to avoid marriage are at risk of falling into legal battles in order to get a share in a home they have lived in all their lives and/or in the wealth they have helped to build.
According to the latest figures of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of people choosing to cohabit rather than get married has risen to five million in the UK.
Many people fall foul of believing that if they live with their partner for a considerable amount of time, they have a ‘common law marriage’ or are ‘common law and man and wife’. Unfortunately this is a major misconception that would not protect the remaining partner if one passed away. The only way to ensure that your partner is protected is to write a will.
If you and your partner had no will, you would not get any automatic rights at all according to our law!
No Will – What Would Happen?
If there was no will in place, the surviving partner could face a big struggle to prove that he or she should be entitled to the property and money etc. In addition, there is also likely to be issues and fall-outs amongst the family.
There have been many cases where there has been no will and bereaved partners have had to bring claims against their own family, even their own children!
To illustrate what could happen if you had a long-standing partner when one of you passed away, detailed below is a fictional couple scenario:
Lisa and Seb had been happily living together for 30 years but decided not to marry. They have 3 grown up children together. The property they lived in together was in Lisa’s sole name, as was her bank accounts and other assets. Lisa also had a pension.
Lisa sadly passed away without a will. The law says that her children are to inherit everything in equal shares and her partner Seb automatically inherits nothing at all. Even Lisa’s pension is not automatically going to Seb.
In order for Seb to get inherit anything, he would have to prove that he lived in the property, helped maintain it over the years and maybe even prove that Lisa maintained him. He would of course have a strong case for this although he would still have to convince a court for them to decide.
Regarding the pension, Seb would have to demonstrate how long he had known Lisa and how long he had lived with her before getting any part of her retirement funding. This would however be at the discretion of the pension provider.
Not a process Seb wanted to be going through following the loss of his life long partner. It’s also likely that Lisa would never have wanted this to happen either.
Even if Seb did eventually receive a proportion of Lisa’s estate, anything over £325,000 would be liable to 40% inheritance tax whereas if they were married, everything passes between married couples tax free.
Old fashioned yes but this is the law.
Some may say that it is even more important to have a will for unmarried couples than if you were married as at least the law does offer some form of protection for married couples.
Making a will does not have to daunting or even expensive. The process is very simple and provides a whole host of protection and peace of mind to those you love.
Get planning ahead and protect those you love by making a will.
When somebody dies without having a Will this is called ‘ Dying Intestate’. This means that the law will decide how your hard earned assets are distributed.
Nobody really wants this to happen but with 60% of adults not having a Will this is a common occurrence.
Anybody that doesn’t have a Will should definitely get one. People put off writing a will because they don’t like talking about death but in reality it happens to us all at some point so we need to be prepared.
The Rules of Intestacy
If you are married or in a civil partnership and have no children – Your Spouse will receive the whole of your estate.
If you are married or in a civil partnership and have children – Your Spouse/Civil Partner will receive all your personal possessions, the first £250,000 and then half of what remains. Your children would receive the other half of what remains in equal shares.
If you are not married or there is no surviving Spouse/Civil Partner or children, then the whole of the estate would go to the next highest relative in order of importance. The law says the order of importance to be:
Brothers and Sisters
Nieces and Nephews
Uncles and Aunts
If you have none of the above relatives then the whole of your estate would go to the Crown.
Unmarried partners, common law spouses, ex-partners/spouses, step-parents, step-children or close friends are not included within the Intestacy Rules, which means if you die intestate, none of these people would be able to benefit from your estate.
Making a Will is never too early and so for a small investment of your time and money you can decide who gets what you have worked for whilst also protecting your loved ones.
My name is Natali and I am the founder and owner of Life Choice Legal.
I am a mum of 3 to Ewan, Charlie and Isla and wife to my dearest husband Mark.
As well as being a wife and mum I am also a career girl!
I studied Law at the Metropolitan University of Manchester whilst working in many law firms before graduating in 2007 and eventually qualifying as a Solicitor.
I have covered many legal disciplines since starting out my career in law, including prison law, road traffic defence, personal injury, employment law, data protection legislation and of course wills and probate.
After working for many years and hours in various law firms, juggling my career and my family I finally took the leap to start my own business and I am so happy I did!
Having an interest in wills and probate I became a member of the trusted Society of Will Writers (SWW) which is a non-profit making self regulatory organisation, that seeks to protect the public and serve the interests of active professionals in the field of will writing.
I now provide a range of services including will writing and lasting powers of attorney, which I thoroughly enjoy. I work to my own schedule, days, evenings and weekends to suit my client needs but all of which works perfectly around my family.
I get to do both, look after and enjoy my family whilst fulfilling my career at the same time!