The statistics show that many individuals are already choosing cohabitation over marriage for a variety of reasons, regardless of the fact that cohabitants have few legal rights.

Although cohabitants do have some legal protection in several areas, cohabitation gives no general legal status to a couple, unlike marriage and civil partnership from which many legal rights including statutory inheritance under intestacy rules.

Although cohabitants do have some legal protection in several areas, cohabitation gives no general legal status to a couple, unlike marriage and civil partnership from which many legal rights including statutory inheritance under intestacy rules.

Cohabitation and Inheritance

There are existing legal provisions which can be used by a disappointed cohabitant to make a claim for reasonable financial provision from the deceased’s estate. After a death, a cohabitant (who has been living with the deceased for two or more years as his or her husband or wife) is among certain classes of individuals who have a right to legally ‘challenge’ the distribution of assets, whether by will or the intestacy provisions, under The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the Act). However, an application under the Act can be costly and stressful, with the cohabitants essentially suing their partner’s surviving family and in some cases, even their own minor children. The effect of this can be destructive and does not always result in the distribution that was intended by the deceased.

There are existing legal provisions which can be used by a disappointed cohabitant to make a claim for reasonable financial provision from the deceased’s estate. After a death, a cohabitant (who has been living with the deceased for two or more years as his or her husband or wife) is among certain classes of individuals who have a right to legally ‘challenge’ the distribution of assets, whether by will or the intestacy provisions, under The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the Act). However, an application under the Act can be costly and stressful, with the cohabitants essentially suing their partner’s surviving family and in some cases, even their own minor children. The effect of this can be destructive and does not always result in the distribution that was intended by the deceased.

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Russ Legal Ltd, England and Wales Registered Company number 11729370.

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