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The Importance of Making a Will

June 10, 2024 4:36 pm - Categorised in: , , ,

Understanding the misconceptions around Wills and ‘common law marriage’

It is hard to overstate the importance of making a Will – it elevates the extra burden at an already difficult time and in some cases helps avoid financial hardship. Yet, over half of UK population have not made a Will.

This is especially relevant in couples who have not formalised their relationship by marrying or entering into a civil partnership. A widespread misconception of ‘common law marriage’ is a contributor to this issue. Often, those who have spent many years together assume they will inherit from their partner automatically should anything happen to them, however ‘common law’ spouses have no legal recognition and in the eyes of the law such couples are treated as two single unrelated individuals.

This is when a Will could make a significant difference. Should an unmarried couple make Wills leaving their assets to each other, the lack of a formalised relationship would not have a detrimental effect. However, if there is no Will, a strict hierarchy known as “rules of intestacy” will dictate who can inherit based on closest blood-relation. According to this hierarchy, a partner does not have an automatic right to inherit or even deal with the administration of their loved one’s estate.

Whilst it is possible to then make a claim against a late partner’s estate, this process often proves to be lengthy, costly and stressful. Moreover, the success is not guaranteed. The surviving partner can therefore be forced into financial hardship should they not have sufficient joint assets with their partner or sufficient assets of their own to rely upon.

A Will can allow you to gift your assets to your partner or permit them to reside at your property for a period of time and make certain they are not forced out of their home during a challenging time.

Should you decide to get married or enter into a civil partnership after you have made your Will, it is likely your Will would be revoked by your marriage unless the Will was specifically drafted in a way that allowed it to remain valid following marriage or civil partnership.

It is always a good idea to look into making a Will. Even if you are happy with the provisions dictated by the rules of intestacy, it may still be beneficial to make a Will to save the extra work and worry for your loved ones.

If you have any queries relating to Wills and Probate, please do not hesitate to contact Elina Topham in our Belper branch.

This article also appears in Derbyshire Life.

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About Elina Topham

Elina Topham joined our Belper team in July 2023 as a Paralegal in Wills & Probate. Elina has gained extensive legal knowledge working at local firms in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire in various different roles. Elina is experienced in advising and assisting clients with Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Court of Protection and Estate Administration…

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