Not said ‘I do’ yet?

If you are living with your partner, but not married, are you aware that if you were to die your partner would have no automatic right to any of your assets?

Wake Smith private client solicitor Louise Rudkin looks at a cautionary tale of an unmarried couple and explains how the simple act of making a will can bring security and avoid future heartache.

“People still talk to me about ‘common law’ husband and wife, however this term doesn’t really mean anything in law. Even if you have lived with someone for 20 years, you would not be automatically entitled to any of their assets, on their death. If you have children together, they would inherit under the intestacy rules, but you would not, and if your children were very young, this would be very impractical indeed.

“I once had a client whose partner of many years died suddenly in his 40s leaving her with two young children.

“He had been the main earner and the savings and his salary were paid into a bank account in his sole name. She could not access the accounts. The house had been his before they met and was in his sole name, they had never gotten around to making wills, getting married or transferring the house into joint names.

“So the weeks and months after his death were absolutely dreadful for her, as well as dealing with the tremendous shock of his death, which was trauma enough, she was also unable to access the money held in his accounts and of course had no automatic right to the funds.

“This may seem an extreme example, however it is nevertheless a cautionary tale that you should give some thought to if you are unmarried and in a similar position.

“The simple act of writing a will gives you the peace of mind that in the unlikely, and unthinkable, event that your partner was to die, you could have already made provision for one another and put in place the required legal mechanism to manage the process. This would save a huge amount of uncertainly and stress for your partner.

“People who are unmarried should also check that their pension and death in service nominations are up to date, as this could be another area of uncertainty.

“Another reason why you may want to consider getting around to marrying, other than love of course, is that unless you are married you will not benefit from the transferable nil rate band for inheritance tax.

“So if you and your partner are worth more than £325,000 there could be a tax liability on death.

“These issues are ones we all like to avoid thinking about, understandably, however working in this profession I have seen so many examples where grieving families have said “If only they had made a will...”

For further advice on wills contact Louise Rudkin on 0114 266 6660 or at louise.rudkin@wake-smith.com

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