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Living together but don’t have a Will – the difficult conversations

09 August 2021 Wills, Trusts & Estates Alan Roughead

It’s an uncomfortable topic. Discussing death and what will happen if you die. Sitting down with a new partner, in your brand new flat, discussing making a Will can feel morbid and futile. You’re both young. You’re healthy. You have good jobs, financial stability. But if you don’t have the difficult conversations when it does feel pointless, then it will inevitably be too late to have them at all.

In Scotland, cohabiting couples are not afforded the same rights as married ones. No matter how long you’ve been together, be it a year, ten, fifty, you do not automatically qualify, in the eyes of law, to anything in the event of your or indeed your partner’s death. It means you could find yourself in a more uncomfortable situation. Even more so if your partner has children from a previous relationship or a surviving spouse who they’re separated but not divorced from.

In 2020, there were six million cohabiting couples in the UK. And you wouldn’t be alone in thinking that the law must have changed to reflect this. The terms “Common law Husband” and “Common Law Wife” while fun when allocating the household chores, don’t mean anything in the law. As an unmarried couple, you need to make Wills if you wish to make sure that the other partner inherits.

If you are cohabitating and your partner were to suddenly die, you may not be entitled to your partner’s share of any property that you lived in together. Writing a Will is not difficult. And it’s there to protect you, your partner and your children and other dependents (if you have them), so that whilst grieving, you don’t have to contend with financial issues that can easily be avoided by one, small, uncomfortable conversation.

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