Another Reason to Make a Will: There is No Such Thing as a Common Law Wife

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By AdFeatures | Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 11:32


It does not matter how long you have lived with your partner: if you are not married then you will not inherit anything if they die, and you will not pass anything to your partner in the event of your death. You will also not be able to apply to deal with all the things that need to be sorted out after a death, such as closing bank accounts, a family will dispute and accessing money to pay for the funeral.

Unfortunately, many people believe that they become their partner’s ‘common law wife’ or ‘common law husband’ after they have lived together for a few years. That is not true. The only way that you and your partner can be sure that if one of you dies then the other will be taken care of financially is to both make Wills.

This is especially important if you own your home. If the house is in your sole name and you die without making a Will, the house will pass to your ‘next of kin’ (usually their parents, or children) and your partner will not have any right to stay living there. The same would be true if the house is owned in your partner’s sole name and they died: you would have no right to stay living there.

If the house is owned in joint names, then you need to check carefully how you own it. It might be that you both own half the house each, in which case if you died then your half would pass to your next of kin and the house would probably have to be sold.

Making a Will is a really easy way to overcome these possible problems. You can both state in your Wills that you want each other to inherit everything, or say exactly what you would want each other to inherit. For example, you could say that you want your partner to be able to stay living in the house until they die, or perhaps until they remarry or cohabit. You could use that last option to protect your children by making sure that they will inherit even if your partner marries after your death and wants to leave everything to their spouse. There are many law firms in the UK that specialise in contentious probate when there is a dispute involving an inheritance, so it really pays to research the market and find a solicitor that can deal with any worries you may have.

Above all, making a Will would make sure that neither of you would have to worry about how you will cope financially if the worst should happen to your other half. Talk to a specialist Wills solicitor to get an idea of what else your Will could say or do, for example to reduce inheritance tax or avoid future nursing home fees.

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