The simple answer is that if there is no Will, the assets will not pass to the surviving cohabitee but to the family members of the person who has died. However, making a Will can change this.
The Office of National Statistics recently released their report ‘Families and households: 2018’ which shows that the number of cohabiting couples continues to grow rapidly. There has been an increase of 25.8% since 2008 with the number of cohabiting couples growing to 3.4m.
With such a rise we increasingly see that cohabiting couples do not understand their legal rights when one person dies. There is no such thing as a common-law marriage. Only couples who are married or in a civil partnership are protected via the intestacy laws on death.
Cohabiting couples also do not benefit from the spouse/civil partner exemption for the payment of inheritance tax, which means that cohabiting couples could end up paying more in inheritance tax than their married/civil partner counterparts.
This means that it is extremely important for cohabiting couples to make a Will especially those who are wealthy or who share property or have children together.
If you have any questions surrounding the above article or regarding a Will, please contact the team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting 01603 610911.
If there is a dispute regarding the above, please contact our Probate Disputes Team who will be able to assist.