Over two million cohabiting couples are at risk of leaving their partner with nothing, should they die without a will.
Statistics released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the number of people living together as a couple has risen by almost 50% to 2.05 million.
Recent changes to the law have strengthened the position of those in marriages or civil partnerships to inherit should one of the couple die, but the position of cohabiting couples has not changed.
This could mean that surviving partners in unmarried couples are left with nothing, while they are also dealing with losing a loved one. Under the intestacy rules, only partners who are married or in a civil partnership can inherit.
The ONS revealed the number of cohabiting couples rose by 46% between 2002 and 2014, from 1,407,862 to 2,055,542.
Gary Rycroft, solicitor and member of the Law Society’s Wills and Equity Committee said cohabiting couples need to make sure they have a professionally drafted will.
“Under intestacy rules, if no will is in place assets pass automatically to the closest blood relatives who are often children of the deceased or parents or siblings,” he said.
“This means if you die your surviving partner could be left in an emotional and financial mess, with no access to vital funds to help them cope.”
UnionLine offers a free simple will-writing service for members and their partners. If you or your partner are a GMB or Communication Workers Union member wishing to make a will, call our helpline on 0300 333 0303 to be sent a free will pack.
To find out more about cohabiting and the associated legal issues, please visit the Law Society website.
* subject to rule