In a Relationship and No Will – Beware of Unintended Consequences
A common and widely held misconception is that on death all of your estate passes to your spouse, cohabitee or partner. Nowadays society comprises a whole range of different family units. Apart from the traditional nuclear family, there are now many who live with a partner, both of whom may have children by previous relationships. There are other who cohabit with a partner who is separated but remained married.
Many of the people in those relationships quite naturally anticipate and even assume that their loved ones with whom they reside will inherit their estate and belongings. This is not always so. For example a spouse who is separated but not divorced has a claim in her separated spouse’s estate and in some cases may inherit virtually the entire estate.
Similarly children have rights in their parents’ estates which cannot be denied but which can be modified and curtailed if that is what the parent wishes. Special treatment needs also to be given if you own business assets in a partnership or in a limited company where the law has very particular and special provisions.
The moral of all of these illustration is that it is never too early to write your Will or review any existing Will as your circumstances evolve.