I was interested to read this week that there is another new initiative to try and reform the laws of intestacy to include cohabitees.
The law of intestacy sets out what happens to someone’s assets if they do not leave a Will. It is estimated that approximately 70% of the population do not make a Will and therefore this law covers a considerable number of people.
The law of intestacy looks after an individual’s surviving spouse first of all and then their children (though not stepchildren). However, cohabitees have no automatic rights at all and if someone dies with a live-in partner that partner may have to make a claim against their late partner’s family to keep a roof over their head.
Reforming the law is not going to be easy though, for example at what stage would it be fair to benefit a cohabitee? If an individual has been living with their partner for only a few weeks when death occurs it could well be considered unfair to benefit that cohabitee to the exclusion of blood relatives.
Of course, there is no substitute for having a well-thought-out Will, particularly if you are cohabiting or want a wider class of beneficiaries to inherit from you. There is no guarantee that the law will change so if you want to look after your partner the message is to change your will now.
As always, we are happy to talk to you about your individual circumstances and work out what is the best Will for you.