Cohabiting Couples – The Legal Position

It is fair to say that in the UK, family situations are becoming incredibly more complex and there are more than 6 million cohabiting couples in the UK.

For the sake of avoiding confusion, a cohabiting couple is two people who opt to live together outside of marriage or a civil partnership yet are in a relationship.

Statistics also show that 42% of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce. More and more people enter into second or third marriages, more people have children outside of wedlock and peoples estates can then become increasingly more complicated.

Rights under law

Under English and Welsh law however, the rights conferred upon cohabiting couples in terms of inheritance law are clear.

If you live with your partner but are not married or in a civil partnership you have no entitlement to your partners property on death. The situation is no different even if you have children together. In essence the law works in favor of couples that are married or in a civil partnership.

Info for cohabiting couples

Writing a Will is the only sure fire way to ensure that provision is made for a non-married partner on your death.

In England and Wales you could make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 if you can prove that you were financially dependent on your partner during your relationship.

If you jointly own a property with a partner (and this is registered at the Land Registry) you are entitled to your share of that property.

Without an up to date Will, you are taking the chance that your partner, who you may have been with for some time, will have no provision made for them. Having no Will at all will mean that your estate will be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy after your death.


If you would like to write a Will then speak to a member of the Society of Will Writers in your area. Find them on our search function.





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The Society of Will Writers is a non-profit making self-regulatory organisation whose primary objectives are the advancement, education and ethical standards within the will writing profession.

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