Why cohabiting couples should make a will

When Tom and Pete bought their first property together, life couldn’t have been better. They both had good jobs 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 after moving in together, Pete got a call that would change his life forever – Tom had been killed in a car accident.

The intestacy trap

On top of grieving for his partner, Pete found he was also facing an uncertain financial future. UK intestacy laws meant he wasn’t entitled to inherit any of Tom’s property or financial assets unless he had joint ownership. Pete knew that Tom would have wanted him to inherit everything but, without a will, that didn’t matter.

Pete and Tom had owned their property as joint tenants, meaning Tom’s share automatically passed to Pete according to the rights of survivorship. However, without children or any surviving parents or siblings, the remainder of Tom’s assets ended up being passed onto a distant uncle he had scarcely known.

Without Tom’s savings and investments, life insurance policy or even the car that Tom owned but they both used, Pete now struggles to pay his bills.

How a will could have helped

Had Tom got around to writing a will, he would have been able to specify exactly who would receive what from his estate, including his savings, investments, car and other belongings. As well as writing a will, Tom could have made his wishes known by nominating beneficiaries to his pension and writing life policies under trust. By taking these steps, he would have given Pete the extra financial support he now so desperately needs.

As it stands, Pete still has the legal right to claim against Tom’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 Tom had made a will, this added stress could have been avoided.

Don’t put it off

In the UK, the number of cohabiting-couple families is growing faster than the number of married-couple and lone-parent families. However, cohabiting couples have none of the legal protections afforded by marriage. A will is one way to ensure your partner inherits according to your wishes. Despite this, three in five UK adults do not have one.

Let us help

Any will must be drawn up accurately without ambiguities and executed correctly for it to be valid and effective. So, it makes sense to use an experienced professional.

A consultation with a will-writing expert will allow you to explore ways in which to reflect your wishes and protect the financial future of your loved ones in the most tax-efficient way possible.

If you’d like to find out more about how to arrange a will, we’re here to help.

Will writing is not part of The Openwork Partnership’s services and is offered in our own right.

The Openwork Partnership accepts no responsibility for this aspect of our business. Will writing and Trusts are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.