Small Biz Tracks

Estate planning for cohabiting couples

Estate Planning considerations for cohabitants

Modern couples are increasingly choosing to cohabit as opposed to getting married or entering a civil partnership. However, many people are unaware that being ‘common law partners’ does not afford you the same rights as married couples or those in a civil partnership. As such, it’s vital for couples who don’t intend to marry to make estate planning arrangements.

The simplest way to ensure your partner is provided for after your death is to make a Will. This legal document states who is to benefit from your wealth when you’ve passed away, and details how your assets are to be distributed.

What happens if you have no Will?

If a Will is not made, the rules of intestacy apply when you pass away. These do not allow for unmarried partners to benefit from any inheritance, and could lead to your loved ones losing the family home, for example. The rules of intestacy set out a very particular order in which your wealth can be distributed to your survivors, with children and grandchildren standing to benefit in the first instance, should you be unmarried.

Considerations for cohabiting couples

If you’re happy with cohabiting and want to be able to provide for your partner in the event of your death, there are various things you’ll need to consider. These include whether you own property jointly or separately, and whether you have children together or separately. Although these situations are common, they can complicate inheritance matters, so in order to ensure your wishes are met your Will should clearly state the following:

  • Who should inherit upon your death. Your beneficiaries can be anyone you choose, and can include organisations such as charities too. Be sure to seek advice from a solicitor or Kent tax advisor to understand how you can best distribute your wealth.
  • Who will administer your estate. Your Will should name one or more executors. These are the people who are responsible for administering your estate when you pass away. They can, of course, pass their duties to a Kent accountant for Probate services, who will complete all the necessary tasks on their behalf.
  • Specific wishes regarding assets. You may wish for your partner to inherit the family home, while your children inherit your savings, for example. Or you may have jewellery or artwork you wish to pass on to a specific person or institution. All this can be detailed in your Will.

Help with administering an estate

Administering an estate is an important duty – and a daunting one, particularly if you are grieving for a partner. If you require help with obtaining Probate and carrying out the decedent’s wishes, get in touch with a reputable accountant for Probate services. A professional can collect all the information required to complete the Probate application and ensure the testator’s final wishes are met, leaving you to focus on coming to terms with your loss.

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