Thanks for Nothing, Partner

Intestacy can mean despair

Many couples choose not to formalise their relationship either through marriage or civil partnership. Whilst this is a personal choice it is worth bearing in mind that legally there will be consequences if one of the couple dies where no will was drawn up. In this case the person who has died will be classed as intestate with perhaps unintended consequences.

By writing a will you are able to specify how your estate will be distributed on your death. Whilst this is something most of us don't necessarily want to think about there is no escape from the fact that one day it will happen and anything we can do to prepare and make life easier for the those we leave behind the better.

If you are not married or in a civil partnership and die intestate your partner is not entitled to any of your estate. If you have children then your estate would be divided between them. If you don't have children then what you leave behind will be distributed to other surviving close (and perhaps not so close) relatives. Programmes such as Heir Hunters on TV demonstrate just how difficult and time consuming this can become especially if you had assumed that everything would be left to your surviving partner.

Clearly, if you have a long term relationship with someone but for whatever reason decide not to formalise it then you should both write a will that makes it clear how you want your estates dealt with on death.

Whilst the above statements provide little comfort for those living together it would be possible for the surviving partner to apply to the courts for financial help from the estate. You must have been living with the deceased for a minimum of two years to be eligible. The court may award regular payments from the estate, a lump sum or property to be transferred from the estate. Even though this is possible it is worth bearing in mind that the process will not be short and can add further stress to what will already be a very painful time in life.

Ultimately if there are no surviving relatives of the deceased the estate will land up in the hands of the government. Having spent your life with someone would you really want that to be the outcome of your relationship?

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