Whilst there is an increase in the number of people who decide to co-habit together, the understanding of what happens to property and assets if one partner dies is still misunderstood.
If you have a client who lives with their partner and they have decided they don’t wish to get married or enter into a civil partnership, then the assumption that everything will pass to them is incorrect.
If no Will is in place making provision for each partner then there is no automatic right against the estate.
If you have a client who is in the position whereby their partner owns most of the assets outright, if that partner were to die then the deceased’s estate would either pass under the terms of their Will, or if they don’t have a Will, the estate will likely pass to their next of kin under the Intestacy Rules.
If your client and their partner have joint-ownership over their assets if no Will is made, under the laws of intestacy for unmarried couples, your client would be entitled to their half, but the other half would be shared equally between the deceased’s children (if there are any), so missing the surviving partner.
Where there are no children, the estate would be split in the following order: surviving parents, the deceased’s siblings (or their children if the sibling has died), grandparents, aunts/uncles (or their children if they’ve died). This could mean your client may have to share their home with a family member.
In the absence of any family members, the deceased’s estate would all pass to the Crown.
Therefore making an updated Will to benefit each partner is vital to ensure that further down the line, each is protected and treated as wished, particularly in regards to their property and financial matters.
If either partner has made a Will prior to the relationship forming, then it is just as important to get the Will reviewed and updated in order to guarantee the future allocation of assets
Trevor Cross, MD, BTWC says, “Making a Will or updating their Will is the only secure way your client can ensure that their wishes for their partner regarding the distribution of property and assets is upheld and legal. As their adviser you have the opportunity to discuss their options with them, and outline the reality of the situation and guide them on the appropriate steps, all of which we can support you with.”
For more information just contact us on 01522 500 823 or email us at [email protected]