Unmarried Couples’ Rights When a Partner Dies
Posted on 17th February 2023 at 09:27
Unmarried couples do not have the same legal rights as couples who are married or in a civil partnership. Therefore, it is vital unmarried couples make Wills if they would like their partner to inherit from their estate.
A person who dies without leaving a valid Will is called “intestate”. Under the Rules of Intestacy, if your partner dies without a Will, and you are unmarried you will receive nothing.
What Happens If My Partners Dies Without a Will?
4 Probate and Wills highlights the importance of why unmarried couples need a Will:
Contrary to popular belief, there are no legal rights as a “common law spouse”, so a partner will not inherit even if they live together and/or have children.
There is no financial security on death of a partner. For example: if one partner works, and the other partner is at home looking after the children and is dependent on their salary; under the rules, the children would inherit from their deceased parent’s estate, but the surviving partner wouldn’t.
If a person lives in a deceased partner’s property or they jointly own a property with another person; they could be forced to move out or sell their home.
If a person dies and they were living with a new partner, but going through a divorce that has not finalised, the new partner could end up in a dispute with the estranged spouse and family.
There is no inheritance tax (IHT) relief for cohabiting couples so IHT planning may be required to avoid paying more tax than necessary.
Normally Wills are automatically revoked on marriage, but they can be made in contemplation of marriage to prevent this, so it shouldn’t be a reason to delay making a Will.
To receive anything from a deceased partner’s estate, the person would need to make a claim through the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. In order to make a claim they must have lived together for 2 years. However, it does not guarantee they will receive anything because the claim could be unsuccessful.
To rely on chance and pursue a claim on the Estate will be stressful, costly and in so many cases unsuccessful. A professionally drafted Will can alleviate all of this.
You may be concerned that your unmarried partner will disinherit your children should they decide to write a Will after you have passed. Granting the Right to Occupy for your partner could be the best for all parties.
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