The court has recently given a Cohabitation ruling which has given a cohabitee the right to make a claim against her partner’s estate on his death.
In short, the couple had lived together in a loving and committed relationship for 18 years and owned a property jointly but as tenants in common meaning that it did not automatically pass to the other on one party’s death. However, as the male partner had never divorced his estranged wife, on his death, his share legally reverted to his wife.
The Judge in the case ruled that the cohabitee was entitled to make a claim against the estate of her deceased partner.
This case will potentially have a huge impact on the law for unmarried partners on the death of one of them but relying on the courts to make such important decisions is, in my experience, a very risky and usually expensive tactic, as these decisions do vary from court to court.
What this case does show us is the importance of planning ahead and taking steps to protect both yourself and your loved ones.
We recommend that cohabitees consider entering into a Cohabitation Agreement from when they start living together to clearly define which assets are joint and which remain separate. We also stress the importance of having a Will in place and it is of paramount importance to review this regularly, particularly in the event of a change in your circumstances. Finally, when purchasing a property together it is vital that you understand how you will own the property and what this will mean in the event of your separation or one party’s death.
Help is at hand because Amicus Law are experts in Cohabitation Agreements. Please contact our Family Law specialist lawyers on 01823 462 525 for help and advice and an initial 30 minute free conversation.