In the past 20 years, the number of cohabiting couples has doubled, yet it is surprising to learn that many do not believe that they require a Will. Regardless of how long you have been together or how long you have lived together, if you are not married or in a civil partnership, you do not stand to inherit anything from your partner.
Maria and Harry live together in a rented house and have been together for 20 years. Maria has £50,000 in savings and a £150,000 life insurance policy from her job, which pays out to her estate on her death. Maria’s only relative is her estranged sister who lives in Singapore.
Maria dies suddenly without a will; as her and Harry were never legally married, the £50,000 cash and the £150,000 life insurance pay-out all pass to Maria’s closest living relative – her sister in Singapore, leaving Harry with nothing. Harry’s only option would be to make a claim against Maria’s estate, which can be extremely stressful, time-consuming and expensive.
This upsetting situation could have been avoided easily and cost-effectively if Maria had made a simple Will detailing how she would like her assets to be distributed upon her death.
If Maria and Harry had children, the situation would be slightly different…
The children would receive all of the £50,000 cash and the £150,000 life insurance pay out equally between them, and again Harry would receive nothing. If their children are under 18, then whatever they inherit will be held in a trust for them until they reach adulthood.
This may seem fine, this money could be used for the children’s’ benefit and education, but Harry would not have direct access to what is held in the trust. This could cause Harry serious problems in terms of what he can afford and his lifestyle, and again, his only option would be to make a claim against the Estate.
Do not leave your partner struggling – if you would like to discuss Wills and Estate planning, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced private client team today, either at our office in Lancaster or Kirkby Lonsdale.