What rights do I have as a common law spouse?
“A common law spouse is a phrase which is commonly used for couples who live together but are not married or in a civil partnership. It is historically something to which some weight and importance was given. However, there is no legal recognition of this form of relationship. It is an informal description of a couple’s status as ‘co-habiting’. There is a risk that co-habiting couples rely on the idea of common law marriage rather than making a will or considering more formal means of estate planning.
So, what are your rights?
Living together in a relationship as a couple, without a marriage or civil partnership, is known as co-habitation. This format of relationship has fewer legal rights than those that are married, or in a civil partnership.
Therefore, in a scenario where a couple are co-habiting, and the deceased did not prepare a valid will but they also held the majority of the shared assets in their sole name – issues can arise. The surviving partner does not automatically inherit assets not already held in shared or joint names. A will is vital, not only to ensuring your partner inherits assets they already share or have access to, but also to make certain that they will be cared for when you are no longer there.
Having a will in place is the only way to ensure that your wishes will be carried out, and your partner (or other loved ones) inherit what, and when, you want them to.
There are further disadvantages to living together as a couple while not married or in a civil partnership. Gifts from one person to the other in the relationship are subject to the same tax rules, as gifts to any other person or third party. However, gifts between people in a marriage or civil partnership are free from inheritance tax. In fact, the nil rate band each person has can accumulate and whatever is not used by the passing of the first person can be carried over to be used on the estate at the passing of the second spouse.”
Writing a will is simpler than most people imagine. So don’t put it off. Our friendly and reliable wills and probate specialists can take all your needs into account, helping you carry on with peace of mind. Contact us for a free 30-minute consultation
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