It is a common misconception that if you are an unmarried couple, then your partner will automatically inherit your estate when you die. If you do not leave a Will, the Government’s intestacy rules apply and your partner is not entitled to anything under these rules. What are the estate inheritance rights for unmarried couples without a Will?
The intestacy rules state that if you die without leaving a Will, your estate would not automatically pass to your partner, but to other family members including children, parents or siblings (depending on which relatives have survived you). However, if you were married without children, then your estate would automatically pass in its entirety to your spouse under the intestacy rules. If you are married with children, the intestacy rules state that your spouse will receive a legacy of up to £270,000 of the estate as well as personal possessions, but the remainder of the estate allows full rights to be split in half for the spouse and the remaining half divided equally between the children. Again, this may not be what you wished to happen if a Will were in place.
Leaving Your Estate to Your Surviving Partner
If you wish to leave some or all of your estate to your partner, you should make a Will to ensure this is carried out after your death. This is particularly important where you are co-habiting with your partner and you own a property in your sole name, or jointly with your partner as tenants in common. If you have not made a Will, then your surviving co-habitee could end up owning the house with your family members and / or be forced to leave the home.
However, if you own the property with your partner as joint tenants, the property will pass to your partner automatically. If you own the property with your partner, it is useful to check if the property title is registered as tenants in common or joint tenants as this will affect whether it passes to your partner automatically, or whether you need to make a Will for your partner to benefit from your share of the property.
Tenants in common – each owner owns a separate share (equal or unequal) of the property. Tenants in common are able to leave their respective share of the property to whomever they would like to in their Will.
Joint Tenants – each owner owns the whole of the property value (100%). If you hold the property as joint tenants, the property will pass automatically to the surviving joint owner if one dies.
What If you have Left your Partner Without a Will?
It is possible for your partner to make a claim against your estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 when reasonable financial provision has not been made for them under the intestacy rules. However, this is a costly and stressful process and there is no guarantee that they will be successful in their claim.
Therefore, it is recommended for you to leave a Will stating exactly how you would like your partner to benefit from your assets after you have died. This will help to avoid a financial mess for your partner at what is already a difficult time for them.
To ensure peace of mind for you and your partner or spouse, please contact Aalia Ijaz on 0161 475 1218 or email [email protected]. In light of the Covid-19 restrictions in place, we are offering appointments by telephone and video conference.