Co-habiting? Who gets the house if one of you die?

Were you aware that as a co-habiting couple you don’t have the same rights as those in marriages or civil partnerships ? So as a hetrosexual couple who don’t want to get married you need to ensure your succession planning is all in place.

In 2015 a  case at the Central London County Court highlighted just how important it is as a co-habiting couple to regularly review your Will and ensure it is up-to-date.

The case centred on the Dorset home of Norman Martin and Joy Williams. They had lived together for 18 years and had co-owned their home as “tenants in common”. By co-owing their property in this way, Norman and Joy each owned a distinctive share in the property. When Norman died in 2012, the effect of Norman’s Will meant that his share in the property passed to his wife Maureen from whom he had separated in 1994 but never divorced.

Joy claimed against Norman’s estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and Judge Nigel Gerald awarded her Norman’s share in the Dorset home.

This case demonstrates the importance of keeping your Will up-to-date. Ideally, you should review your Will at least every five years, or sooner if your circumstances change. It not only makes things clearer for family and friends after your death, but it can also help to avoid lengthy and costly disputes especially for co-habiting couples.


Christopher Reece.

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