Change of marital status and the rules of inheritance

The Daily Mail (link below) has highlighted the risks faced by co-habiting couples who do not up-date their Wills when their marital circumstances change.

There is a common misconception that couples who live together but are not married automatically have the same rights as those couples that are married or in civil partnerships. This is, unfortunately, not the case and those in long-term, committed, relationships should ensure their Wills are up-to-date to guarantee their wishes are carried out.

In the case highlighted by the Daily Mail, a grandmother had to make an application to the court under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 for ‘reasonable financial provision’ following the death of her partner.

In this case, despite being in a long term, committed, relationship for eighteen years, the deceased had not initiated divorce proceedings against his former wife. In addition to this, the deceased had not up-dated his Will prior to his death in 2012.

As a result, the deceased’s estranged wife became entitled to his assets upon his death; this included owning a half share in the home shared by the deceased and his partner.

Luckily, in this case, the courts found in favour of the deceased’s partner and awarded her the deceased’s share of the shared home. However, this was not granted until after an application was made to the courts costing the parties £100,000.00 in legal fees.

We here at Passmores are able to advise you on the complexity of the laws of inheritance, Will drafting, and divorce which you may need to prevent this scenario happening to you or a loved one.

Please contact us on 01446 721 000 or for more information.