The Law Society have recently issued a warning to all unmarried couples to update their Wills to ensure that their partner does not lose everything when they die.
If either partner in an unmarried couple or civil partnership dies without a Will in place, or with one that has not been updated to include their partner, the surviving partner may not be classed as a beneficiary of the estate and could receive nothing when they die. This could include an asset as important as the home they shared together.
In these circumstances, assets are likely to go to children, estranged husbands or wives, parents or siblings. In the absence of any of these relationships it could go to the government. If this is the case and the partner receives nothing, they will have to enter into a lengthy court battle to argue their entitlement.
A recent case highlights just this
In a recent case, a bereaved woman received nothing from her long term partner when he died because he had forgotten to update his Will. His share of the property they lived in together, totalling over £300,000, was inherited by his estranged wife, despite the fact that he had owned the property with his partner for the 6 years preceding his death.
She had to take the case to court and whilst the ruling was in her favour and she won the money, she was extremely traumatised by the ordeal. This unnecessary stress could have been avoided had her partner updated his Will to reflect the change in circumstances and his new relationship.
What you need to do
This case highlights the importance of ensuring that you have a valid Will in place and that it is regularly reviewed and kept up to date. You must ensure that you get qualified legal advice to overcome the complexities that the law can present with such a vital document.
Statistics show that unmarried couples represent over 16% of the population’s family set up in the UK so having such a Will in place to reflect these circumstances is key to ensuring your partner inherits your estate.
Posted on March 11, 2016