The 2014 ONS Government Survey calculated that whilst there are 22.5 million people living as a couple and married, there are a further 5.5 million people co-habitating but not married.
More and more couples are choosing to live together and the laws for unmarried, cohabiting partners are not the same as those for married couples in that they have no automatic right to their partner’s income or assets upon separation. This means, making adequate provisions for unexpected circumstances during lifetime as well as upon death become more important than ever.
What is a Cohabitation Agreement?
At present, the only solution for cohabiting couples seeking legal protection is to enter into a Cohabitation Agreement, also known as a “No-Nup”.
It is an Agreement which sets out who owns what and in what proportion. A Cohabitation Agreement documents provisions for children, and how you will divide your property and other assets should the relationship break down. It can also be used to clarify the day-to-day management of finances. BTWC has provided many such agreements over recent years and certainly has seen an increase in demand for such arrangements.
Do you own a home together?
The family home is often the main and most valuable asset of a relationship. Parties can hold a property as joint tenants, tenants in common, or in one party’s sole name.
If purchasing the property as joint tenants, each person takes half of the equity upon separation. If one person passes away, the survivor inherits the whole property.
If purchasing the property as tenants in common, the property is held jointly but as separate shares. If one person passes away, their share will only pass according to their Will.
Where ownership of family property is in the sole name of one party, it is usually a sensible precaution to enter into a written Agreement to define and secure the financial interest of the non-owner who otherwise could be entitled to nothing.
Do you have children?
If you have children from your current or previous relationships, making adequate plans and provisions for them is paramount. Guardians should be considered along with ensuring any children are not unintentionally disinherited by the surviving partner on remarriage should they simply ‘forget’ to make a new will to take into account their change in circumstances.
Occupational pension schemes often do not recognise cohabiting partners. A pension is only paid to a surviving unmarried partner if they can prove financial dependence on the scheme member. A specific nomination may also be required by the scheme member for the other party to benefit. Cohabiting partners also have no rights over state pensions.
If you require further advice on planning ahead,
please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01522 500823
Source: Naim Qureshi mondaq.com