What happens if you die and you are “living together” and haven’t made a Will?
The first thing that I’m going to say is – MAKE A WILL!
Surely your common-law spouse (co-habitee) gets it all? The simple answer is no! In terms of intestacy there is no such status as common-law spouse!
If you own property together jointly, then your partner may inherit your share of the house, but only if it is owned as “joint tenants” and not as “tenants in common”. The most common way that people hold property is as joint tenants, but if you are not sure, you should seek advice and check. The survivor will then inherit by survivorship. If you have a mortgage together, they will also be liable to pay the whole of that, so if this is not affordable, you should consider getting some life assurance, so that they are not left with a huge debt they cannot pay on top of the loss of their partner!
What about everything else? The survivor will have to make an Inheritance (Provision for family and dependants) Act 1975 claim (otherwise known as a 1975 Act Claim) for “reasonable financial provision”.
The basis of the claim is that someone has died & left behind some that they should have made financial provision for and didn’t or didn’t make enough provision. The claimant then has to claim from the beneficiaries of the Will or intestacy money that they feel they should have. The case therefore becomes a negotiation between the beneficiaries and the claimants. Which could be the girlfriend/boyfriend claiming against the parents or children of the deceased. How those negotiations go, will depend on the nature of their underlying relationship and of course the advice of the lawyers on each side. The whole situation is very stressful, which is made worse of course by the fact that the parties are bereaved! And to top it all, they are having to pay lawyers!!
So the message is that if you want your money to go to people you love, make a Will, although you will have to pay a solicitor to do that for you, it will be A LOT less than you have to pay the lawyers to sort out the mess afterwards.
If you love someone enough to live with them and buy a house together, then love them enough not to leave them with a nightmare if the worst should happen and MAKE A WILL.