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Law Commission proposes inheritance rights for co-habiting couples

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The Law Commission is proposing to give unmarried childless couples who live together for two years automatic entitlement to half their partners estate if they die without a will. 

Under the current law, cohabitees who are unmarried and are not in a civil partnership have no automatic rights to inherit their partner’s assets if they die without leaving a will. 

The controversial proposals suggest those who have cohabited for at least five years should have equal rights to those of a spouse and those together for between two and five years should receive half of what a spouse would.

In the new consultation paper Intestacy and Family Provision Claims on Death the Commission says: “Under current law, they may have to go to court to claim reasonable provision from a partner’s estate, which may involve great financial and emotional cost.” 

The consultation closes on February 28 2010.

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Readers' comments (4)

  • Giving spousal rights to cohabitees living together more than 5 years is like allowing membership of a club, without have to pay the membership fees.

    It's not on!

    My view is that, if someone wants to make proper provision for another person, there is ample time to do it.

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  • Whilst I would feel sorry for anyone who suffers as a result of not making a will, nor gaining the legal protections available through marriage, this change will simply devalue the insitution of marriage further.
    People make a conscious decision to mary and not to. It is a visbile committment and aformation. No one forces you to becom emarried nowadays "for the sake of the childern", not forces you to stay together and yet continual tinkering with the protections of marriage become more of a liability and the protection sof those who CHOOSE not to marry increasing is a moral hazard.

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  • I agree with the thrust of the twp previous comments. I think their should be rewards, such as incremental increases in personal tax allowances for each year that a married couple stay together, with reductions in their allowances if they do not exercise parental control on their children.

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  • Keep the tax system simple. Either you marry/enter a civil partnership or you don't. If you don't that is your decision, but face any consequences for good or ill..

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