16 February 2018 by

Cohabiting couples, do you know your rights?

Research published by Direct Line this week suggests 38% of unmarried couples are not sure of what they would be entitled to in the event of the death of their loved one.

More than half of married people in Britain have drawn up a will but that figure is much lower for those cohabiting with their partner. Just 26% of unmarried people living with a partner have a will.

One in ten of the people surveyed mistakenly believe that they would inherit their partner’s share of any property they own together, but this would only be the case if their partner had asked for this to happen in their will or they owned the property as joint tenants rather than tenants in common.

“As our society changes, marriage is further down the agenda for many couples. It is very common for partners to live together for extended periods of time before getting married, if they marry at all” said Jane Morgan, business manager at Direct Line Life Insurance.

The law is not the same for married and unmarried couples and worryingly millions of us are under the false impression we have the same legal and financial security as married couples.

If you are unmarried you have no automatic legal right to any of your partners estate when they die unless they have made a will leaving part or all of their estate to you.

You do however have the right to bring a claim against the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Defendants) Act (1975), but the process can be timely, expensive and the outcome uncertain.

Prevention is therefore much better than the cure so unmarried couples really need to make sure they have valid wills in place to save further distress at an already awful time for their loved ones.

You can contact one of our other solicitors in the Contentious Trusts and Probate team here.

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