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Are You Living With A Partner And Havent Made A Will Yet?

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If you live with a partner but are not married, did you know they will not receive anything if you die without a Will?

A Will is a document which sets out what will happen to all your assets when you die. By making a Will, you can decide how they will be shared out. If you don’t make a Will, the government has made rules which decide how your estate will be distributed (the “Intestacy Rules”). Unlike married couples and civil partners, your unmarried partner cannot inherit from you unless there is a Will. This could mean that those you hoped would benefit, such as your partner, friends or a favourite charity, will receive nothing. Here is an example of how this might work:

David and Victoria aren’t married but have been living together for some time. They don’t have any children yet, but both sets of parents are still alive. Their house is owned by Victoria. She also has some modest savings. David has about £15,000 in the bank, some shares issued free when his building society turned into a bank, and a life policy worth about £35,000. Neither of them has ever made a Will. Whichever of them died first, all his/her assets would go to his/her parents. The only way they could benefit from each other would be for the survivor to make a claim against their partner’s parents for financial provision. Unless the parents agreed to share their inheritance, this could be a long-drawn out process, and very stressful at a difficult time.

By making a Will, you can protect your partner financially, and also any children you may have. You can nominate the people you would like to bring up your children (“guardians”) and you can also make arrangements for your children to inherit when they are older than 18, if you think that 18 is too young. Arrangements can also be made for children with special needs.

If you wish to make a Will it is advisable to use a solicitor, as there are certain legal formalities which have to be followed. You may also need legal advice for more complicated matters e.g. trust funds, Inheritance Tax-saving.

Finally, if you have made a Will while you and your partner are living together but you later decide to get married, your Will may be cancelled by your marriage and so you may need to make a new Will.

Here is a list of some of the words your solicitor might use when discussing your Will:

Beneficiary A person or charity that benefits from your Will
Estate All your assets when you die
Executor A person you appoint in your Will to carry out your wishes and to administer your estate when you die
Intestate Dying without leaving a valid Will
Legacy or bequest A gift you leave to someone in your Will
Probate The legal process after you die to validate your Will and enable your executors to distribute your estate
Residue The balance of your estate after all your debts are paid and the executors have paid/handed over any specific gifts
Testator or testatrix A man or woman who makes a valid Will

For more information on Wills, please contact a member of our Private Client team.

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