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Cohabiting partners could be left with nothing

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Written by:
07/03/2007

A lot of people who cohabit are not aware of their legal position when it comes to inheritance and this could wreck their saving and investment plans, according to a survey undertaken by website Advicenow.

Over half of the 1,004 adults surveyed said that they believed they had the same or similar inheritance rights as married couples.

But this assumption is wrong and, legally, they have no automatic right to inherit assets from a deceased partner. This could be bad news for the two-thirds of cohabitants who have not written wills but want their partner to inherit their estate as part of their saving and investment strategy.

Many cohabiting couples erroneously place their trust in the concept of Common Law marriage, according to Advicenow. They believe they gain the rights of married couples with the passing of time, but this not the case.

Indeed, Common Law marriage does not exist in English law.

Property at death in these cases is distributed either according to the terms of a will, or under the laws of Intestacy, where married or civil partners stand to gain the most. Anything that remains in the way of saving and investment usually goes to children or other members of the family.

Mary Weber, Advicenow spokesperson, said: “Unfortunately, we can never be sure of what lies around the corner and the last thing a bereaved partner needs is to have to worry about being able to stay in the shared home, paying the bills.”

 

 

 

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