Solicitor Chris Strogen specializes in wills and probate and shares some advice about the importance of having a will if you live with a partner.
Although the attitude of society has changed towards unmarried relationships the law on Wills hasn’t caught up. That’s why it is important that if you’re in an unmarried relationship you and your partner each have a Will.
You need a Will because:
• If you don’t have a Will, intestacy rules apply to your estate. An unmarried partner won’t get a share of the estate under intestacy rules so will get nothing unless a court claim is made against the estate.
• An unmarried partner can only bring a claim against their late partner’s estate if their partner didn’t make reasonable financial provision for them and the couple lived with each other as husband and wife for two years or the claimant was financially dependent on their partner.
Some people assume that they won’t be in a financial predicament on their partner’s death because they’re a ‘common law’ husband or wife. That’s a myth as there’s no legal concept of a common-law spouse as under the law you are treated as married or unmarried.
What happens if an unmarried partner dies without leaving a Will?
If an unmarried partner dies without making a Will their estate passes under intestacy provisions set out in statute. The intestacy rules say that the deceased’s estate will pass to:
• The deceased’s children (or their descendants) or
• If the deceased doesn’t have any children or grandchildren the estate will pass to their parents or if their parents have already passed away to any siblings or, if none, to more distant relatives.
The intestacy rules can be challenged if there was a two-year cohabiting relationship or financial dependency on a partner but that involves court proceedings.
What happens if an unmarried partner makes a Will?
If a deceased leaves his or her estate or a legacy to their unmarried partner in their Will it makes things less complicated. Instead of having to make a court claim the surviving partner is entitled to the estate or gift. The legacy can only be challenged if another person successfully brings a claim against the estate.
If you are in an unmarried relationship it is best to have a conversation with your partner about making Wills so that you and your family are protected.
For help with Wills call Chris Strogen at Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 to arrange a video conference or telephone appointment.