February 10, 2020

Choosing not to Marry? – Why Writing a Will should be your Priority

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.

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