Are you Cohabiting? Here are 6 things to check

Are you Cohabiting? Here are 6 things to check

16 March 2017

If you are cohabiting it is important to understand that you do not have automatic rights or interests in your partner’s property, income, capital, pensions or assets generally.  Neither do you have an automatic interest in their estate should they die before you.  This can mean that if your relationship changes, in particular on separation, or in the event of death, you can find yourself financially as well as emotionally bereft.

In the interests of understanding your circumstances and planning for the eventualities of change, cohabitees should consider the following:-

  1. Have you made Wills?  If you die will your survivors be protected?

    If you are a cohabitee you will only inherit what your partner has left to you in his or her Will.  You will not have an automatic claim on your home, his or her pension, his or her bank account and other assets.
    You may be able to establish a claim by commencing proceedings under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 but this would require you to commence litigation within six months of the death of your partner and challenge other beneficiaries of the estate which could clearly be difficult, painful and expensive. 

  2. Property

    Do you understand your property arrangements? 
    Are you joint owners of your property? 
    Have you defined the extent of your interest in that property? 
    Do you need to define that interest?
    Did you contribute to the acquisition of that property?

    If you have introduced capital or made contributions towards the purchase of a property but your name is not on the title deeds as being an owner, you may struggle to establish that you have any interest in that property.  Such litigation is generally expensive, risky and the outcomes are usually uncertain. Read more.

    Stating clearly at the time of property purchase what your respective interest are in the acquired property should avoid expense for both parties and the considerable anxiety which both of you will experience if there is litigation or in the event of death.

    If you have not stated what your interests are in that property at the time of purchase, you can record your interests later.

  3. Pensions

    If you are not married then you should check that your partner has nominated you as his or her beneficiary under their pension scheme.  There may be good reasons for not nominating one’s partner as the beneficiary.  However it is advisable that you both understand if that nomination has not been made so that you can each take steps to ensure that other provision has been made.

  4. Lasting Powers of Attorney

    Your partner will not be regarded as your next of kin if you become incapable of handling your own affairs.  If you want them to continue to have access to your bank account, to manage household affairs, or to assist you in dealing with your medical or care needs, it is important that you have Powers of Attorney in place to enable them to assist with financial and property matters and with health issues. 

    Lasting Powers of Attorney allow you to appoint someone you trust to look after your affairs in the event that you no longer have the capacity to do so. Read more.

  5. Parental Responsibility

    If you are an unmarried father you should ensure you name is on your child’s birth certificate if you wish to exercise Parental Responsibility with the child’s mother. Read more

  6. Cohabitation Agreement

    Consider having a Cohabitation Agreement.  This can set out your expectations in the event of separation for the division of capital, income, liabilities and can identify your intentions in relation to Will and pension provision. 

    For more information generally on cohabitation, property and cohabitation agreements.

    For more information on any of these issues please contact a member of Neves Family Team who will be happy to advise further.  We offer a fixed fee initial appointment for £110 plus VAT where we consider with you whether you need to take any precautionary steps to protect your position.

Please get in touch if you need to review your will, set up a Lasting Power of Attorney or draw up a cohabitation agreement. Call 0330 0945 500, email or complete our Online Contact Form