If you are happily living with your partner, you might not yet have considered what would happen after one of you dies. If you die in England or Wales without a valid Will in place the rules of intestacy will apply, and this will dictate who should inherit from you. You may be surprised to read that if you are not married or have not formed a civil partnership before you die, your partner will not be entitled to anything under the rules of intestacy. The rules of intestacy are strict and will only take into consideration married spouses, civil partners and blood relatives. Unfortunately, even in circumstances where partners may have lived together for years and would have wanted to benefit each other on their deaths, this will not change the automatic inheritance rules and your partner would still not be entitled.
If your surviving partner is left behind without the protection of a Will naming them as a beneficiary their only option would be to try and make a legal claim against your estate. As with any litigation process, this is notoriously expense and long winded and there is no guarantee that they would be successful. There are also conditions that they would have to meet in order to start a claim and they would need to prove that you have been living together in a specific type of relationship for a number of years.
If there is no Will in place providing your partner with the necessary authority to act in your estate, your partner will also struggle dealing with any financial institutions, utility companies or other firms you might have dealings which since there is no automatic authority allowing partners to act.
Even if you are engaged to be married, until you exchange your vows, the law will not recognise your relationship and your fiancée would not inherit anything from you.
The best way to protect your partner and ensure that your wishes are carried out is to put a valid Will in place. Even if your partner is well established and you would prefer that your children or others benefitted from your estate after you die, it is best to write a Will so that your intentions are clear, and your partner is less likely to look to make a claim when you might not want them too.
It is also important to remember that partners are also not recognised in situations where you may loss your capacity. Alongside your Will you should consider creating Lasting Power of Attorneys (LPAs) which would allow you to appoint your partner to act for you if you ever lose the ability to look after your own finances or health needs.
Where or not you own anything jointly with your partner or if you are planning on getting married later on, it is important to discuss your wishes with each other and ensure that these are documented in a valid Will. We would be happy to discuss your requirements with you and make sure that your partner and any other loved ones will all be considered on your death. Please get in touch.