May 8, 2017
With a combination of house prices and student debt rising alongside an increase in the cost of living it is unsurprising that people are often not getting married given it can be one of the most expensive and stressful decisions of your life! While many believe they don’t have much reason to marry there is one issue that marriage clears up and that is the protection and rights that are given to your spouse if you were to pass away.
As couples, often desperate to escape rented accommodation, are buying properties together as soon as they can this can often lead to issues on the horizon. Some people do believe that if they have lived together for a long time they will be classed as married in the eyes of the law and unfortunately that isn’t the case. This is leading to an increase in the number of challenges that are made to wills or where someone has died without a will (aka intestate) and the estate is distributed according to the laws of succession.
If an unmarried couple are living in a property but only one person’s name is on the title deed this can cause problems if there is no will. Unless the owner has made a will leaving the property to the surviving partner on death, that person could find the ownership of the house going to the deceased’s family. The surviving partner is then left in an awkward situation of hoping that they will not be forced out of their home.
Where, as is often the case for first time buyers, parents have contributed to helping with the initial deposit this can cause complication and consternation. This is an area where a trust could be invaluable, giving the surviving partner the right to live in the property while also putting planning in place to ensure that the relatives will be able to be ‘paid back’ any money if necessary.
Another area that can be a cause for concern is if, in an unwed couple, one has been acting as a step parent for any children from a previous relationship. If it is decided they should be the one to look after the children then they need to be mentioned in a will or it will be left to a court to decide who should have custody. In the event of both partners passing away, a choice of guardians should be carefully considered and mentioned in the will.
Another (less exciting) reason to get married is to do with tax. Anything passed between married partners on death counts as an ‘interspousal transfer’ and will not count for inheritance tax but if a couple isn’t married then they don’t receive this. The same is true of the nil rate band and inheritance tax. A married couple can apply to combine their individual allowances of £325k to have £650k as a unit.
Whatever suits you, marriage or no, you need to ensure you have the right planning in place should the worst happen. Wills are of course a small part of legacy planning but they are the crucial foundation that everything else is built on. My motto is that if you have children and you have assets then you need a will! Where people are unmarried it’s also doubly important. Make sure you have the right planning in place for you and your loved ones and ensure you book a legacy planning review with me on 01530 416555 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org