More and more people are living together in unmarried relationships. If one of them dies without a will, the potential for financial disaster is always there.
Take this example: Kate and Matthew are both in their fifties. Kate has two adult children from her previous marriage and they also have a son together who is now 14. They decided to live together in Kate’s house as it was more suitable as a family home. They have never married and not made wills. Sadly, Kate is killed in a road accident on the way home from work.
Because she hadn’t made a will, the law sets out what happens to her estate. In this example, everything in Kate’s sole name (including the house) will pass to her children equally. Kate’s adult children want the house to be sold so that they can realise their share in the property. Although Matthew may be able to make a claim against her estate because they have lived together for more than two years, the cost and emotional turmoil involved will be daunting. He had taken early retirement on health grounds and does not have much in the way of savings.
It could have been so much easier if Kate had made a will. She could have granted Matthew the right to occupy the property for a fixed period or for his lifetime and could have made sure he was financially secure.
Many people still wrongly think that there is such a thing as a ‘common law’ wife or husband and that this gives rights on death. If this is you or someone you know, please get in touch so that I can advise you further.