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Childless cohabitees are set to get half their partner’s estate

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

Under 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 plan puts forward that people 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 get half of what a spouse would.

In new consultation paper entitled, 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.

Skandia head of tax and financial planning Colin Jelley says: “No matter whether you are married or not, it is vital that, in planning the distribution of your estate, you get appropriate advice. Too many people sleepwalk into leaving more money to the Exchequer than they intend to.”

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  1. The first paragraph is completely at odds with what is suggested subsequently. A surviving spouse is not automatically entitled to the deceased’s estate if there is no will. They receive the personal chattels (clothes, jewellery, furniture etc and possibly the car) and the spouse’s legacy and either half the remainder or merely the right to income from that half if the deceased had children. The spouse’s legacy is £250K if there are children or £450K if there are none.
    I’d recommend marriage (if only for tax reasons, but do check how it affects your pensions!), a well written will and possibly a living together agreement

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