Across the UK, co-habiting is becoming increasingly popular, with approximately 3.3 million couples living together without being married. As the number of unmarried couples continues to grow, these couples must understand the legal implications of not having a will.
Unfortunately, unmarried couples who live together do not have the same rights as married couples, particularly when it comes to death and inheritance. While your relationship may be described as a ‘common-law marriage’, it is not recognised by law. This means that regardless of the length of time together or even if you have children together, your partner will not have an automatic claim to inheritance when you die. Due to this, it is vital that you write a will to ensure your partner is properly provided for after you die.
Who Will Inherit The Estate?
If a person passes away without a will, they are said to have died ‘intestate’. If this happens, the law will decide who should deal with the deceased’s affairs as well as who should inherit their estate. This will include any property, personal belongings or money. If you are unmarried and have children, your estate will be distributed to your children in equal shares. If you are cohabiting, you should be aware that passing away without a will means your partner will not inherit any assets. This can add significant stress to your loved ones as it may result in your family experiencing financial difficulty.
What Will Happen to the Property You Share?
What happens to your property is determined by the way it is owned. If the house is solely in your name, it will be passed on to whoever is entitled to inherit from you. This will apply even if your partner is still living in the house. They won’t have any right to the property and so, they may need to find alternative accommodation. If you and your partner own the property jointly, you are known as ‘Joint Tenants’. This means that’s if one owner passes away, the property will be transferred to the surviving owner.
Why Should I Write A Will?
For unmarried couples living together, writing a will is vital. By writing a will, you will ensure that the estate is divided amongst your loved ones as per your wishes. In your will, you can outline exactly what you would like your partner to inherit. This may include specific items, a percentage of the value of your estate or the entirety of your estate.
When writing your will, you can choose to do this yourself or enlist the help of a professional. While a cheaper DIY alternative can appear appealing, any mistakes could create added stress and heartaches for your loved ones. Employing a solicitor can reduce stress for your family and friends, as well as giving you more peace of mind. Read more about the dangers associated with using DIY wills here.
If you are not married or in a civil partnership, writing a will is essential when planning for the future. Contact H McPartland & Sons today in Lurgan or Lisburn to have a chat with a member of our team and find out how we can help you write a will that ensures your estate, no matter how large or small, is divided as per your wishes. Our experienced solicitors will be able to provide advice about creating a will and answer any queries about the process.