There are many couples who live together in long-term committed relationship however if you die without having prepared a will (dieing intestate) you partner could be left in a precarious financial position and, in the worst case scenario, if there are no other relatives, the Crown may take your estate.

At present, the intestacy rules simply do not recognise un-partnered or unmarried survivors, and if there is no will or no provision made in the will for the surviving partner, the only other option would be to attempt a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. This is assuming that your partner was wholly or partially supported by you whilst you were alive, which may be extremely difficult to prove in an equal relationship where both partners have made a financial contribution to the relationship.

Even for couples in a civil partnership or who are married, the Intestacy Rules may not properly reflect your wishes on death. If your estate has a value in excess of £250,000 then potentially you may find that your partner will not get your entire estate and the estate will pass to other relatives.

If you have:

• already made a will that does not reflect your wishes

• if you have recently registered your partnership

• you have recently married

you will need to make a new Will as any prior wills will become invalid and, for example, specific gifts you made under the terms of your old will no longer apply.

In short, you should make sure your Will reflects your up to date wishes, and status and you should review this periodically to ensure that this continues to be the case.

Anna Smales – Garton Solicitors

For full advice on wills, partnership arrangements, pre-nuptial agreements etc contact Anna Smales on 0113 231076 or by email: asmales@gartonsolicitors.co.uk

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