The Myth of Cohabitation and How it Affects Wills

By Lenore Rice

One of the reasons that people so often put off writing a Will is that they assume that their assets will pass to their ‘common law’ partner. This is simply not the case, as cohabiting couples are not afforded the same legal rights as married couples, and the term ‘common law marriage’ is a total myth.

Regardless of how long they have lived together, couples who are cohabiting have no automatic legal right to each other’s property. The same can be said for if one partner dies, the other has no automatic legal entitlement to inherit anything from the deceased partner unless they are a) legally married or b) named as a beneficiary in the deceased person’s Will.

When a person dies without leaving a valid Will, their estate must be shared out in accordance with certain rules. These are called the rules of intestacy, and refer to the legislation in place to govern the division of assets among the appropriate parties should a person die without leaving a Will.

It should be noted very clearly that someone who is cohabiting or ‘common law married’ cannot inherit any assets under the abovementioned rules of intestacy, and will therefore most likely be passed over when it comes to dividing the estate of their intestate partner.

If a couple wishes to remain cohabiting without getting married or entering into a civil partnership then it is imperative that, in order to protect and provide for the future of their partner, they write a valid and legal Will.

Writing a Will is the only way to ensure that the people you care most about are properly looked after in accordance with your specific wishes after your death.

How Wilson Nesbitt can help

At Wilson Nesbitt we wholly understand that writing a Will is a difficult thing to even think about, as we are very aware that nobody really wants to think about something as morbid as what happens after they die.

Still, while we know that thinking about it is difficult, we will endeavour to help all those who wish to take the next step in planning for their future.

If you would like to receive information or advice from one of our Will writing solicitors simply click here and a member of the team will be in contact at a time of your convenience.