Co-habiting couples – make sure you have a Will in place!

24th Mar 2021

There are over six million unmarried couples cohabiting in the UK, a figure which has likely increased significantly since the onset of the pandemic. A recent research study has shown that more than one third of cohabiting couples were unsure about what rights they would have in the event that their partner passed away without leaving a will. Even more worryingly one in ten cohabiting couples wrongly believed that in that event they would be automatically entitled to inherit their partner’s share of any property that they lived in together.

With co-habiting become more common this misunderstanding could lead to a nasty surprise for many people.

When someone dies without leaving a Will their estate is dealt with in accordance with the rules of intestacy. Currently these rules do not provide for a co-habiting partner. If you are not married to your partner they will not receive anything on your death. Despite what many people believe being a ‘common law partner’ is not recognised in law and offers you no legal protection.

If you want to provide for your partner, whether by leaving them your property outright or perhaps just the right to live there for a period time while they make other arrangements, you need to make sure you have a valid Will in place. Often things are more complicated where partners are not married which can make it even more essential to ensure you receive detailed legal advice about your options.

Your Will does not only deal with your property but also your money in the bank and your personal belongings. If you and your partner have built a home together there could be upsetting disagreements with your family regarding who owns certain things in your home or who should receive your treasured items. If your partner relies on you to contribute to the household bills and mortgage then they could find themselves in difficulty if they don’t have access to your finances after your death.

If your partner receives nothing on your death they do have the right to make a claim against your estate but only if you have been co-habiting for more than two years. This can be a lengthy and expensive process though and could cause avoidable stress for your family and loved ones.

Don’t leave it too late. We would strongly recommend ensuring you write a Will to provide for what happens after you’ve gone.  It may not be as expensive as you think and we will do our best to make the process as simple and easy as possible for you.

If you want to make a Will or review one you have already made, we have several people that can assist you here at McHale & Co to get started please call and ask for Philippa Wright on 0161 928 3848 or email at

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