Unmarried couples and death

We often report in this newsletter about the fact that unmarried couples have little or no automatic rights to the property of their partner. There is no such thing as a 'common law' wife or husband.

A recent case shows that the courts are willing to deal with these issues arising on death.

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 enables a family member or dependant person who has not received sufficient financial provision on the death of a partner or relative to make an application to the court for provision from the estate.

In a recent case, the applicant was 91. He and his deceased partner had lived together for 19 years.  The deceased's daughter inherited the estate and the partner did not get anything. The surviving partner applied for provision under the 1975 Act that the house in which they had lived should be transferred to him in exchange for a payment of money for the full value of the property.  The facts of the case were unusual in that the applicant was wealthy in his own right and was able to pay for the property. The applicant was successful.

The case is yet another reminder of the importance of considering who you live with and what you want to happen to your assets when you die. If you have children of a previous relationship and a second partner this can be particularly relevant. A solicitor can help you to consider all of these issues when you make your will to try to avoid difficulty and acrimony after death.

To discuss this or any other will related matter, contact us.

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