New intestacy laws designed to reflect modern day living habits will not improve the serious consequences that current rules impose on common law co-habiting couples if one partner dies without making a Will.
As with existing legislation, the surviving common partner will still be entitled to absolutely nothing under the new law that comes into force on 1st October 2014.
Solicitor, Emma Jacobs, who is based in the Wrexham head office of leading law firm GHP Legal, says the outcome of the new legislation is a major blow for couples who are neither married nor in a Civil Partnership.
“Lawyers have long been campaigning for the law to provide the same rights for co-habitees who have lived together for five years and upwards as it does for married couples and those in Civil Partnerships,” says Miss Jacobs, “but they have been ignored.
“It is therefore now more essential than ever that co-habiting couples who are not in a legally binding relationship make a Will, because there will be no other financial protection for them in the foreseeable future if one of them dies.
“There are an extraordinary number of couples in this situation who simply don’t realise that if one of them dies intestate, i.e. without making a Will, the other has no financial protection.
“Currently, in the case of an unmarried couple without children, the law dictates that the entire estate goes to the deceased’s blood relatives if there is no Will. First in line are the parents of the deceased, then siblings and then nieces and nephews. This situation remains the same under the new legislation.
“If the unmarried couple do have children, the same rules apply but the children will be the first blood relatives in line. Where this gets really difficult is if both partners have children from a previous relationship, because the child of the deceased would inherit the deceased’s entire estate and the surviving partner and their offspring would get nothing. I really would urge every couple who is not married or in a civil partnership and who have not made Wills to do so as a matter of urgency.”