Posted on 27.5.16 by Tasoula Addison
It’s a question that crops up often and one which has a few possible scenarios depending on your circumstances and the property in question. It’s very common nowadays for a couple to live together without getting married, but this presents a few extra problems should something unexpected happen to you or your partner.
First of all, if you are married or in a civil partnership it’s much more straightforward. If you die without having made a Will (intestate), your home, and everything else, will be passed on to your surviving spouse if there are no children. However, what about if you are ‘just’ cohabiting, love your partner but have no plans to get married – what happens to your property then should you die?
Let’s describe a possible scenario: a couple cohabit together, have no children and bought their house as tenants in common with 50/50 equal shares.
In this scenario the ONLY way your partner will inherit the other half of the house is if you have made a Will naming them as the beneficiary of your share of the property. If the house was bought by a couple as joint tenants (and not tenants in common) then the property would automatically pass to the other half even if you aren’t married; this is because joint tenants act as one in the eyes of the law and therefore the property is dealt with as one.
If you and your cohabiting partner are tenants in common and one of you passes away without a Will, your share in the property will not pass to them. Your property instead gets dealt with under the rules of intestacy and because you are not lawfully married or in a civil partnership, your family inherit your property. This would pass to any children first, if not children then parents and if you’re parents aren’t alive then any siblings.
This scenario does leave your partner somewhat in limbo. Of course they keep their share of the property, but the other half they have no say in whatsoever and will have to come to some sort of deal with your family.