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Unmarried Cohabitants are vulnerable without a Will

Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics showed that the cohabiting couple family continues to be the fastest growing family type in the UK in 2015, reaching 3.2 million cohabiting couple families.

The largest group of opposite sex cohabiting couple families are those with no children in the household (55%). This could be associated with young couples choosing to cohabit before getting married and starting a family.

Although there is no such thing as common law marriage in UK law, 51% of respondents to the British Social Attitudes Survey in 2008 thought that unmarried couples who live together for some time probably or definitely had a “common law marriage” which gives them the same legal rights as married couples.  This is not the case. 

The Cohabitation Rights Bill which is a Billl to provide certain protections for persons who live together as a couple or have lived together as a couple has had its first reading in the House of Lords on the 4th June 2015.  The second reading is yet to be scheduled.

Without a Will, assets could go to estranged spouses, children or family not of your choice. 

There has been an increase in the number of dependency claims against deceased estates and a major factor influencing this is an increase in cohabitations where one party does not make a will and the other party is not provided for on the other’s death.  There is no provision in the intestacy rules that entitles surviving cohabitants to automatically receive anything from the deceased’s estate (whereas, there is for a surviving wife or civil partner).

It is also important to take into consideration that even with a Will in place, the surviving partner may be able to bring a claim through the courts against your estate if your partner believes they have been insufficiently provided for in your Will.  Other dependency claims could also be brought by others claiming a portion of the estate on the basis they were dependent on the deceased at the date of death.

It is therefore essential that unmarried cohabitants ensure they have Wills in place to ensure that those they wish to receive their assets on their death will receive them.  A Will is fundamental at any age, so don’t put it off and leave it to chance, call our team today for free initial advice on 01926 491181.

If you are a bereaved spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner and feel you have not received adequate provision from your deceased partner’s estate, please contact our will dispute specialist, Christina Richards for a free consultation.  There is a time limit of 6 months from the Grant of Representation for a claim to be filed.


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