It’s hard to believe that at a time where complicated family relationships are now more common than ever, only three in ten people have a Will to protect the family they leave behind. The Treasury gains millions of pounds each year from people who die intestate i.e. without a Will. With the added increase in litigation of contested Wills, making a Will has never been so important.
The reason for having a Will is to make things easier for your family if you do suddenly die. Families where the parents are unmarried and have children are at particular risk. In this case, the situation has the potential to become more problematic and not having a Will can have devastating effects.
Clients often ask how long it takes to become a common law wife. Is it six months, two years, five years? The answer is none of the above. It is a commonly perceived myth that there is such a thing as the common law wife. In truth, the myth of the common law wife is serving to leave a significant number of people vulnerable and surprised that the law does not offer them similar protection to their married counterparts.
It is essential that cohabitants make Wills to protect their partner in the event of death; otherwise there is little protection on the death of a partner. A cohabitant’s only recourse is to make an application to the court for reasonable financial provision if they have been living in the same household as their partner for two years preceding death and have been living as husband and wife or civil partners.
If your partner dies and you have children, you could potentially be left with nothing. If the property you live in is owned by the deceased, you would have no claim. All the deceased’s assets would be passed directly to the children. This leaves the surviving partner potentially being forced to sue their own children just so they have enough to live on.
What happens to the children if you both die? The courts decide who should look after them. But if you make a Will, you decide.
Many people just can’t face the prospect of contemplating their own mortality. We have previously had a client who didn’t complete her Will as she was worried she would die immediately after. We can honestly say that in many years of dealing with Wills this has not been our experience!
Others don’t like trying to decide between whom gets what and they don’t want to discuss it with their partner for fear of causing upset. But from our past experience, we can say that there is far more upset caused by not discussing it when a partner who is left behind has little or nothing.