The number of unmarried couples living together long term is increasing, with many citing it as the ‘new normal’. Unfortunately, the financial and legal protections for these couples have not yet caught up.
Couples living together for a long time may assume they have acquired ‘common-law spouse’ status, and automatic financial protection if they were to separate. However, this is a misconception, as those living together are not afforded the same legal rights as married couples. Many cohabiting couples wrongly assume that their assets and benefits automatically pass to their partner, and therefore they do not need a Will.
In reality, there are some legal rights for cohabiting couples, but these can be extremely restrictive and do not take into account the element of fairness/discretion, as would apply in the event of a divorce. The only automatic rights available relate to jointly owned property or financial provision for children under the age of 18.
Make sure you don’t fall for the ‘common-law spouse’ myth! Having a valid Will and getting your financial affairs in order ensures that the right people will benefit from your estate.
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