Many people do not realise that unmarried couples are not recognised in law – there is no such thing as a “common law” spouse.
This means that if you have been in a long term relationship for a number of years but have not married, you may have no legal right to your partner’s assets upon their death.
It is therefore important that unmarried couples, or couples who have not entered into a Civil Partnership, make a Will to protect the surviving partner.
Making a Will ensures that any property, savings or investments that you have in your own name will pass to the people who you want and not to those who the law dictates.
If you are in a relationship and not married and your partner dies, then all of their assets will be dealt with under the Law of Intestacy. This dictates that any assets will pass down to your partner’s children at eighteen. If there are no children, then the assets will pass down their family line to parents or brothers and sisters. This would leave the survivor with nothing.
Unmarried couples also need to consider the effects of not making a Will on their children. When an unmarried couple have a child, it is only the mother who gains automatic parental responsibility for that child.
By obtaining parental responsibility automatically, it means that the mother will have a say in any important decisions that need to be made for the child. The father does not automatically gain parental responsibility unless he has been married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth or if he registered the birth with the mother. In the event that the mother dies, then this means that the father cannot make certain decisions for the child as they do not automatically have parental responsibility. By appointing each other as Guardians in the Will it prevents this situation arising.
It is therefore vitally important that unmarried couples have a Will in place.
MKB Solicitors LLP would be happy to discuss the preparation of a Will for you.
Wills, Probate & Future Planning
MKB Solicitors LLP