Courtesy Goldsmithwilliams.co.uk article 5/4/2012
With many of us struggling to make ends meet, it is no surprise why many couples are foregoing the big white wedding and choosing a life of co-habitation instead. But for those not following the conventional path of marriage, the importance of making a Will is even greater than it is for their traditional counterparts.
Co-habiting couples do not have the same rights as married couples. Many simply presume that should they die all their assets will pass to their partner. This assumption, however, could prove costly for the partner they leave behind.
Whilst married couples automatically receive the first £250,000 of their spouses’ estate if they die without making a Will (£450,000 if they have no children), for unmarried couples things aren’t as transparent. Should one of them pass away, the other is not automatically entitled to anything (unless the items are in joint names). This could be particularly risky if the couple’s property is only in the deceased partner’s name, or if one partner is financially dependent on the other.
The surviving partner would have to make a claim against their partner’s estate and the courts would determine what, if anything, they would be benefit from. This can be both long and expensive and has no guarantee of success.
For a jointly owned property, owned as tenants in common (e.g. 50:50 shares) a Deed of Trust could help. A Deed of Trust, sometimes referred to as a Declaration of Trust, is a legally binding document which clearly outlines who owns what and who’ll get what if the property is sold.
It is then imperative that the co-owners make a Will each to say who they want their share in the house to pass to as it won’t automatically pass to the other co-owner.
Article was originally posted elsewhere (movingex.blog.co.uk 2012-04-10– 11:38:11) Content remains relevant, which is why I have added it here.
Topic revisited 13/8/15 https://www.goldsmithwilliams.co.uk/news/cohabiting-couples-without-wills-leave-partners-at-risk