The phrase ‘common-law marriage’ tends to be a familiar one and refers to a situation in which a couple is considered married, without having formally registered their relationship. When considering estate planning though there is a misconception that if you live with someone, your assets will simply pass to your partner upon death. However, that is simply not the case.
Like many things in law, assumptions such as this tend to form over time, passing down the generations and resulting in damaging consequences for families.
Given the increasing proportion of people that are cohabiting, the potential extent of the problem is even more worrying.
Survey results from the Office for National Statistics recently showed that cohabitees are the second most common type of family, with the total for 2017 standing at 3.3 million. Cohabiting families are also the fastest growing type of family, with the most recent figure being more than double that which was recorded in 1996.
In addition to showing a clear shift in values towards the ‘traditional’ family structure, it also represents an increasing number of families who may be unaware of the consequences when it comes to later life planning.
Without a Will, ‘the rules of intestacy’ will step in and assets will be distributed according to it. Under these rules, only spouses, civil partners and close relatives will automatically be able to inherit your wealth – cohabitees are not included. Even if you have been living with a cohabiting partner for many years, this will not increase their right to your estate.
The concern regarding cohabitees is further supported by figures from family justice organisation, Resolution. It reveals that over two-thirds of cohabiting couples do not know that ‘common-law’ marriage has no legal grounding in the UK – a worrying statistic.
The only way to ensure that your possessions are passed on according to your wishes is to write a Will.
Writing a Will can be easy when you have got experts to help you. It will also provide priceless peace of mind. The Fry Group’s Estates team has a wealth of experience in helping people write their Wills.
To speak to one of our professional team today, call 01903 231545 or contact us.