Lots of copules who live together mistakenly believe that they share the same legal rights as married couples when one of them passes away but, in reality, this is incorrect.
"But we've lived together for decades?"
It doesn't matter whether it 's been 10 years or 10 months, you have no automatic legal right to inherit a share of the estate of your partner when they pass away. Therefore, this makes putting a Will in place even more important for those couples who choose not to marry because the law offers you limited options.
Anyone passing away without a valid Will are subject to the Intestacy Rules and these rules make no provision for couples who live together unmarried. There is a statutory list of people who will inherit and it generally follows the bloodline. For example, a surviving spouse, a parent or sibling could be receiving your partner's estate, even if they had no intention of them benefiting.
"But we own property together?"
There is an exception to this rule however, and if any assets are owned jointly as beneficial joint assets they will pass automatically to your partner once you pass away.
"I can still administer their estate though - can't I?"
A cohabiting partner will not only be unable to benefit from your estate but due to the Intesticy Rules, they will also be unable to deal with the way in which your estate is administered as part of the process known as Probate.
"What will I live off? This wasn't the plan we had".
If you do pass away without a Will and your partner is left with no provision under your estates, then due to the Intestacy Rules it could result in them having to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 to enable them to receive part of your estate.
This process is time consuming and distressing for everyone involved and the outcome uncertain. There is no guarantee a court will award you a share of the estate and if they do it may not be as much as you are expecting.
To avoid all of this and to make things as easy as possible for the people you care about when the unexpected happens, you should ensure that a Will is in place, which outlines exactly who you want to benefit from your estate.
For more information contact us on 01656 788922 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org