Cohabiting couples are not protected
If your husband, wife or civil partner dies without making a will, you can now expect to inherit more of their estate than before February 6 because the level of the Statutory Legacy has risen by £20,000.
The fixed amount, which a surviving spouse or civil partner is entitled to inherit when their partner dies intestate, has risen to £270,000, the first rise in more than five years. But the change does not affect those who live together (co-habiting), so the importance of making a will is even greater for co-habiting couples.
Dying without a will
If someone dies without making a will to determine who should benefit from their estate on their death, and to what extent, the fixed rules of intestacy govern how that estate is divided.
At its most basic, under these rules, if your spouse or civil partner dies without a will and without having left surviving children, you, as the survivor, will be entitled to benefit from 100% of the estate.
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However, if the deceased had children, the surviving spouse or civil partner is entitled to all of their personal property and the first £270,000 of the estate. The remaining estate will then be divided, with 50% going to the survivor and 50% to the deceased’s children.
As part of a cohabiting couple, if your partner dies intestate in the UK you have no automatic right to inherit their estate. In order to inherit part of their estate, you would need to bring a claim via the courts under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
The number of cohabiting couples in the UK is increasing and is now estimated to top three million. There can be few more stressful and distressing situations to find yourself in than having to make a case to the court at an already difficult and traumatic time. This is why wills are so important.
A will is, at its most basic, a set of instructions to ensure that what you want to happen to your assets on your death actually happens. It is crucial to have a will in place if you are part of a cohabiting couple or family, and just as important if you are married or in a civil partnership.