Writing a will
Heterosexual couples may soon be able to enter a civil partnership instead of a marriage. But for now, the best way of ensuring your loved ones benefit from your estate is to get a will.
London couple Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld recently won the legal right to a civil partnership in the Supreme Court. The verdict gives hope to other couples who also object to marriage on ideological grounds.
To date, only same-sex couples have been allowed civil partnerships. They are free of religious overtones but provide legal and financial protection if the relationship ends.
Who\’s entitled to a civil partnership?
The government may now bring in a new law that makes civil partnerships available for all. It could be an attractive option for some of the UK’s 3.3 million cohabiting couples. That’s because, at present, you don’t enjoy any legal protection if you’re not married.
If one partner in a cohabiting couple passes away without making a will, the surviving partner is entitled to nothing, no matter how long they’ve been together or how many children they’ve had together.
Instead, who receives the estate in England and Wales is determined by the Rules of Intestacy. For unmarried couples, these rules have remained unchanged since they were introduced in 1925.
Rules of Intestacy
The Rules of Intestacy dictate that the estate of an unmarried person is distributed to blood relatives in a particular order: adult children first of all, who receive an equal share, and then grandchildren.
If anyone on the list has predeceased the person who’s just passed away, the next relative on the list is the one to benefit. Following children on the list are parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, and aunts and uncles.
Even if you think such a division of your estate would be acceptable, the Rules of Intestacy don’t allow you to leave a treasured item or personal gift to a particular person or set up a trust for a relative who’s lower down the list.
How can I get around this?
The way around this is to make a will. At Maplebrook Wills, we provide wills at a fraction of the cost of high street solicitors.
You don’t need to do any prior research or even go anywhere. We’ll visit your house at a convenient time, ask you some questions and then return a few days later with the completed will.