Til Death Do us Part?
Increasing numbers of individuals throughout Scotland are now choosing to live together rather than get married. Many couples living together actually own property but a much smaller percentage own their home jointly.
As the years go by, we see increasing numbers of cohabitees failing to make any financial provision for their partners. Many naively simply refuse to consider and focus on the future, whilst others assume that their partners automatically have the same rights and protection as spouses.
One simple and inexpensive mechanism can assist in safeguarding the position of all involved – a will.
Cohabitees do not enjoy the same rights as a spouse or child to claim against an estate. The Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 did provide a cohabite with an entitlement to claim but only under certain circumstances and within very limited timescales.
The best possible advice, if a couple – of any age – live together – is to make a will. This applies whether they wish to ensure that the survivor will inherit on the first death and equally whether they wish to make sure that the survivor cannot claim – perhaps in a situation where there may be children of a prior relationship whose rights require to be safeguarded.
Pat Gray, Private Client Partner