If you live with your partner and have decided that marriage or civil partnership is not for you, or you intend to marry but are still in the planning phase, you might use terms like ‘my other half’ or ‘my partner’ ‘or my common-law wife or husband’. Whatever you call your partner, the truth is that a cohabiting relationship is not legally recognised in the UK.
Generally, you will have fewer legal rights if you’re living together than if you’re married. Unmarried partners do not have a legal duty to support the other financially.
If your partner dies without leaving a will, you will not automatically inherit anything unless you owned property jointly. It’s worth noting that if you inherit money or property from your unmarried partner, you are not exempt from paying inheritance tax, as married couples are.
As an unmarried couple, you need to make Wills if you want to make sure that your partner inherits your personal property and bank accounts or investments. The legal fees to sort out problems with an estate far outweigh the small cost of a making a Will.
With a Will you can appoint guardians for your young children. This avoids the involvement of the court and social services in your children’s personal lives and allows you to choose the best person to take care of your children if you are no longer around.
Without a Will your children may not receive what you intended. Unless you make a Will and specify your wishes, when they reach 18 your children will receive their inheritance, regardless of whether or not you think that they would make sensible choices at such a young age with a significant amount of money.
Without a Will certain assets that you may have wanted to be kept for your family’s security or for investment purposes may have to be sold. A family business or heirloom may not be able to stay in your family. When there is something of significant value like a business, it is so important to plan ahead to avoid potential conflicts.
Without a Will, in the event of a disaster (where your whole immediate family passes away), your estate may go to a relative that you may never have spoken to, or perhaps don’t even like. But with a Will you could choose to give to your favourite charity.
Without a Will you cannot set out what is to happen if a family member dies before you. Ultimately, without a will, you are unable to exclude or include people. You must depend on the law and the government to decide the economic fate of your family and those you care about.
The gov.uk website has a simple interactive tool that will show you who will inherit if there is no Will: https://www.gov.uk/inherits-someone-dies-without-will
With so many options available how do you decide who to ask for help with your Will? There are online services, home visit services and the traditional options of going to a local solicitor or a bank. As with any important purchase it is a good idea to make enquiries and shop around. Be sure to check qualifications and credentials. A recommendation from a friend or colleague can be useful. Free will drafting services often appoint a professional executor who will charge fees to administer your estate, whereas if you appoint a member of your family or a friend they have the option to choose who to ask for help. As with most things in life if it seems too good to be true – it probably is!
Call Carisma Wills today on 01538 756166 for free advice or to make an appointment and give yourself peace of mind.