Unmarried Couples ‘Must Recognise Importance Of Wills’

Expert Makes Call After Government Confirms Cohabitation Stance

25.11.2011

An estate disputes specialist at Irwin Mitchell has issued a warning to unmarried couples to not ignore the importance of maintaining an up-to-date Will outlining their wishes in the event of death.

Adam Draper, a solicitor in the firm’s Will, Trust and Estate Dispute team has made the call after the government once again stated that there are no plans to consider reform of cohabitation law in the current parliamentary term.

The issue of cohabitation has been in the spotlight in recent weeks following a high-profile Supreme Court ruling related to a dispute which emerged after an unmarried couple from Essex bought a house together and subsequently split up, meaning the share of the property each was entitled to was in doubt.

However, despite a ruling in the case, Lord McNally has reiterated that the rights of unmarried couples will not be considered in the near future.

Commenting on the decision, Adam Draper of Irwin Mitchell said: “Cohabitation is now an increasingly common part of modern relationships but, despite this, the government has confirmed it has no immediate intention to consider a reassessment of rights in this area.

“Because of this, it is increasingly important for unmarried couples who live together to take legal advice to ensure it is made clear exactly how their assets are owned and what they are entitled to.

“One particularly area where this is vital is in the case of writing a Will, as it has to be remembered that intestacy law does not recognise unmarried couples. This potentially means that a woman who has lived with a man for many years is not automatically entitled to inherit assets from him in the event of death unless specifically stated in a letter of wishes or Will.  This can result in the estate passing to a former spouse, or the deceased’s parents or children.

“We would urge unmarried couples to seek advice on this issue and ensure they put provisions in place to ensure that, if the worst does happen, their nearest and dearest are catered for in the manner they would want.”

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