Q&A Should we make Wills if we are not married and are buying a home together?

Q:        My partner and I are going to sell our individual properties and buy a house together. I said we should make Wills at the same time because I read somewhere that couples who aren’t married could end up losing half their home to their partner’s family if they died without a Will in place. My partner doesn’t believe this. Please can you confirm the situation?

A:        It depends how you own the property. Owning a property as Joint Tenants means that you both own all of the property, so when one owner dies their ‘share’ passes automatically to the surviving joint owner. This applies whether you are married or not, and whether or not the deceased owner had a valid Will in place. Owning a property as Joint Tenants means you are equally entitled to the sale proceeds.

The other way of jointly owning a property is as Tenants in Common, whereby you would each own a percentage of the property. Unlike owning a property as Joint Tenants, being Tenants in Common allows you to own different shares of the property (although you can still own equal shares). This is a useful way of owning property together if one party has contributed more towards the deposit and they wish to protect that. If one of the owners dies, their share of the property will pass in accordance with their Will if they have one, or the rules of intestacy if they have no Will.

Unmarried partners do not benefit under the rules of intestacy, so if you own your property as Tenants in Common, you would not inherit your partner’s share of the property should he/she die without a Will in place. Whichever way you decide to own your property, inheritance tax rules still apply. To ensure that your estate is left in accordance with your wishes, preparing a Will or reviewing an existing Will is always advisable whenever your personal or financial circumstances change.

This question has been answered by Jessica Wright, a Solicitor with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter, please visit our website www.ghplegal.com and use the contact us form, or call us on: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194 

Jessica Wright

Jessica Wright

Solicitor

Part of our Probate, Wills, Tax and Trusts team in Oswestry.