Wills for Unmarried Partners

May 21, 2024   ·   4 minute read
Wills for Unmarried Partners

If you are in an unmarried relationship or cohabiting with a partner you do need to sort some paperwork out. Whilst you and your partner may both be content to not have a marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate there are some practical things that you should do to protect your partner and family.

In this article, our Will solicitors look at why it is vital to get a Will sorted out for yourself if you are entering a new cohabiting relationship or if you and your unmarried partner have settled down together without the convention of marriage or civil partnership.

For expert Will advice call us or complete our online form.

Why you need a Will if you are in an unmarried relationship

If you are young and unmarried, why do you need a Will?

If you are middle-aged, in good health, and buoyed up by your new relationship, why do you need a Will?

The answer – if you are living with a partner or are in a personal relationship then your loved one has no inheritance rights or voice if you pass away. The position is different if they were your wife, husband or civil partner.

Whilst a spouse or civil partner is legally your next of kin, an unmarried partner has no legal standing if you do not make a Will. That is the case if you have been living together with your partner for 3 months or 30 years.

If you are unmarried and you do not have a Will, your next of kin may be your children, parents, or a sibling. Your relatives may not get on with your partner. The difficult relationship dynamics and money issues could result in your partner and your family arguing in court about who should inherit your property and assets.

Unless your family who will inherit your estate under intestacy rules can reach an agreement with your cohabiting partner, a judge may have to decide if the intestacy rules (that give nothing to your unmarried partner) should be changed to leave them with reasonable financial provision in light of their circumstances.

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Why you need your partner to make a Will

Looking at the situation from the other angle, it is just as important that your partner makes a Will to protect you. For example, if you have been living with them for ten years in their home. If they pass away before you and they have not made a Will then you will not be entitled to stay in the house. You also will not be entitled to a share in the equity in the property if it is sold unless you can either:

  1. Prove that you have a beneficial interest in the property because you invested money in it and are entitled to an equitable interest under property or trust law or
  2. Claim a share of the estate of your partner by challenging the estate distribution under the intestacy rules

Either option involves the potential for family disputes and court proceedings.

Sometimes unmarried partners do not want to leave their house or estate to their partner. That may be understandable if they have children from a previous relationship, if you and they have not been together long or if you are comfortably off and do not need a share of their estate. However, a Will could give you a right to live in the property for life if your partner has children or the Will could give you the right to stay at the property for at least 12 months after your partner’s death so you have a bit of space and time to grieve.

What should go in your Will and in the Will of your unmarried partner depends on a whole range of issues, including the size of the two estates and your financial positions as well as your respective personal preferences. Alternatively, you or your partner may want to make financial provision for one another by taking out life insurance but you will then need to consider if the life insurance will pass under your Will or a nomination form.

Many couples can feel overwhelmed by Will choices but that is no reason not to make a Will. Our Will solicitors can help you wade through the choices and the decisions you need to make when writing a Will to ensure that you are left with a Will that reflects your wishes and family circumstances.

For expert Will and private client advice call us or complete our online form.