When Douglas and Isla bought their first property together, things couldn’t have been going better. They both had good jobs, were pulling in decent salaries and were excited about spending the rest of their lives together.
They chatted about making a Will a few times, but somehow life always got in the way. Until one day, 10 years later, Douglas got a call that would change his life forever. Knocked down by a car while crossing the road, Isla had tragically passed away.
The intestacy trap
Grieving for the loss of his partner, Douglas then found out that, due to the UK’s intestacy laws, he wasn’t entitled to inherit any of Isla’s property, financial assets or belongings, unless they were jointly owned. Despite Douglas knowing that Isla had loved him and would want him to inherit, the absence of a Will meant that none of that mattered.
Thankfully, Douglas and Isla had owned their property as ‘joint tenants’, meaning Isla’s share automatically passed to Douglas according to the rights of survivorship. However, without children or any surviving parents or siblings, the remainder of Isla’s assets ended up being passed on to a distant uncle with whom Douglas didn’t have any contact.
Now, Douglas faces a battle to pay his bills and mortgages without Isla’s savings and investments, life insurance policy and even the car that Isla owned but they both used.
How a Will could have helped
Had Isla got around to writing a Will, she would have been able to specify exactly who would receive what from her estate, including her savings, investments, car and other belongings. In addition to writing a Will, Isla could have made her wishes known, by nominating beneficiaries to her pension and writing life policies under trust. By taking these steps, Douglas would have been given the extra financial support he now so desperately needs.
As it stands, Douglas still has the legal right to claim against Isla’s estate as they had been cohabiting for more than two years – but this will be a costly and time-consuming process and a positive outcome isn’t guaranteed. If Isla had a Will, this added stress could have been avoided.
Don’t put it off
With cohabiting couple families growing faster than married couple and lone parent families, it’s clear that more people are choosing not to get married, just like Douglas and Isla. However, there’s a catch. Cohabiting couples have none of the legal protections afforded by marriage, meaning that a Will is one way to ensure your partner inherits according to your wishes. Despite this, research shows three in five UK adults do not have one.
Let us help
We can direct you to trusted professionals, such as solicitors, who can make sure your loved ones are protected.