When I was studying law I remember having to write a paper entitled “The Law Reflects The Society which It Serves”.
Many years ago that may have been true but in this day of increasingly extended families it is no longer the case.
The sad truth is that if you are not married or in a civil partnership, then unless you make a Will your partner will receive nothing if you die. It does not matter how long you have lived together, no provision is made under the law.
The only option for your partner is to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. A claim can only be made if you have lived continuously together for more than two years. The cost of such a claim can be very expensive, not to mention the cost in terms of emotion and stress at a time of grief.
Even if you have made a Will, if your Estate is in excess of £325,000.00 then your partner will have to pay Inheritance Tax on any amount over £325,000.00 at 40% in the pound – a considerable amount.
Again, it does not matter how long you have lived together, there will be no exemptions or reductions in the amount of tax payable.
There are very few exemptions in respect of inheritance tax but the most commonly used one is known as the “spouse exemption” – in other words, there is no tax payable on gifts passing between married couples or civil partners on death irrelevant of the value of such gift.
We at Seatons are not in the business of advising our clients to marry but there are occasions when it is simply the only solution – well at least until such time as the law changes.
Where somebody has children by more than one partner then the complexities can be both complex and devastating to all concerned.
Under the law at the moment, if you die without a Will and you are not married but have children then your children will inherit your estate in equal shares when they reach the age of 18. Until such time as they reach the age of 18 the money is held on what is known as a Statutory Trust. The law also states that even with a Will, children cannot inherit outright until they are 18 but at least in a Will provision is made as to who the Trustees are or in other words, who will look after the money and invest it for the children. Without a Will there is often a long and drawn out argument between respective parents and can result not only in costly action involving solicitors but also increased stress at a time when it is least needed.
If you would like more information about making a Will and be advised as to what would happen if you don’t then please telephone 01536-276300.