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Legal protection for unmarried SAHMs

(261 Posts)
lilyaldrin Sun 01-Dec-13 22:03:56

Basically, what do I need to do to confer the same financial/legal protection as marriage would?

We have joint children and although we don't currently own property together, we hope to in the next few years.

First thing I'm tackling is wills leaving everything to each other. What next?

SatinSandals Sun 01-Dec-13 22:14:20

I would visit a solicitor and get proper legal advice.

LadyAlconleigh Sun 01-Dec-13 22:16:36

Get married? It really IS the simplest and best option. I don't mean have a wedding.

Quoteunquote Sun 01-Dec-13 22:18:45

Well when we looked into it, concidering all implications, we after sixteen years together, and not interested in the slightest with the marriage thing, came quickly to the conclusion, that the cheapest and most effective way to deal with all the eventualities was to do the deed, took the afternoon off work, and got wed, and kept very quite about it.

LadyAlconleigh Sun 01-Dec-13 22:19:35

I personally don't understand why people would have children together but no go through the simple, short and cheap process of formalising their relationship and protecting their rights.

LittleBearPad Sun 01-Dec-13 22:23:38

Get married. It's the easiest way to achieve what you want.

FeisMom Sun 01-Dec-13 22:26:23

You can't confer the same legal status, even with £££ at a solicitor I'm afraid.

You don't need the wedding, but you do need to be married.

As a SAHM you are extremely vulnerable should anything go wrong.

SatinSandals Sun 01-Dec-13 22:26:44

It is much cheaper to get married, you can just pop to the registry office and find 2 witnesses. A solicitor charges a lot.

friday16 Sun 01-Dec-13 22:27:43

what do I need to do to confer the same financial/legal protection as marriage would?

Why not get married? It costs, what, fifty quid? Takes about half an hour? Why muck around with complex legal documents that will cost a fortune when your local register office will sort it out for buttons?

Hulababy Sun 01-Dec-13 22:29:05

There are ecrtain things you can't achieve, even through legal work. I mean things like financial benefits in the event of a spouse's death, etc.

LadyAlconleigh Sun 01-Dec-13 22:31:59

I was chatting to my friend today. She is not married and all her kids are adults. She is not his next of kin - they are. If they were.t adults, his parents would be. I know everyone doesn't "agree" with the idea of marriage, but in the current legal set up it really IS the best way to be if you have children and/or property.

The whole point of marriage is actually to get those legal protections. That's what marriage is actually for. As such, it's the only way to actually get them all.

WhatTheHellIsHappening Sun 01-Dec-13 22:33:50

Really, getting married is the only thing. I'm married. Only three people (aside from us two) actually know tbh (+ the people doing formalities). No wedding or big ceremony.

MostWicked Sun 01-Dec-13 22:40:02

Just get married. Much cheaper and more effective than anything a solicitor could do.
I cannot understand why anyone would choose not to if they were committed to each other.

Squiffyagain Sun 01-Dec-13 22:41:57

I don't believe in marriage. I like my maiden name, I wear no rings, house is in my name.

Been married since we had kids. Prompted by seeing a distraught neighbour lose the family home after his partner died (because of inheritance tax), and then to top it all he had to go to court to officialise his parental rights as his partners mother bizarrely tried to claim custody.

Just do it.

hoppinghare Sun 01-Dec-13 22:45:15

I'm also going to say you should get married. You basically want all that marriage entails so get married. You don't have to have a wedding.

Gilberte Sun 01-Dec-13 22:47:16

If you are not married, is the mother's position more powerful than the father's? I know laws on parental responsibility have changed though so this might not still be the case.

I have a friend from another country who has split from her husband but can never go back to her home country with her son to live (without husband's consent which he won't give). If she hadn't of married, I think she would have been able to leave the country with him. But I may be wrong.

wodalingpengwin Sun 01-Dec-13 22:48:41

Get married. Marriage IS the legal contract which gives you those rights.

lilyaldrin Sun 01-Dec-13 22:49:46

I agree that getting married would be easiest, but as that isn't going to happen I'm really interested in what I can do otherwise.

First step - wills leaving whole estate to each other. What else should I consider?

Gilberte Sun 01-Dec-13 22:52:26

"Prompted by seeing a distraught neighbour lose the family home after his partner died (because of inheritance tax)"

Excuse my ignorance of the law (I should google)Do you have to pay inheritance tax if you both own the house and it is willed to you by the other owner?

paperlantern Sun 01-Dec-13 22:53:47

no no no.angry

do not rely on mumsnet for this. Talk to a solicitor, also ask them about joint responsibility for a spouses (individual) debt.

wish to god I had never got married. The pretty awesome legal protection I had before I got married went to hell in a handcart once I said I do.

The solicitors bills to tie things up now may seem hefty. but I can guarantee a difficult divorce is more costly financially and emotionally.

friday16 Sun 01-Dec-13 22:53:59

I don't believe in marriage. I like my maiden name, I wear no rings, house is in my name. Been married since we had kids.

Indeed. There is something faintly pitiful about watching adults with children making some huge deal about not being married, as though it makes them into dangerous revolutionaries and we're all supposed to be either admiring of their principled stand or impressed by how radical they are. If you don't see it as anything other than a legal contract, then it's a cheap and easy way of obtaining a legal contract. Many of the protections it offers are available via other routes (especially now you can get healthcare LPoAs) but rounding up the whole suite so you have mutual ability to sign for healthcare, mutual assured rights over the children in the event of one death, mutual rights over pension and life assurance, etc, etc, is a grand's worth of paper at least (setting up and registering the interlocking EPoAs could easily cost that alone). And some of the protections it offers (for example, transfer of assets on death without payment of IHT, or the transfer of assured tenancies) are only available with marriage or civil partnership.

SatinSandals Sun 01-Dec-13 22:57:10

You don't need to ask on here, you need to pay a solicitor, there are all sorts of considerations that you don't realise until a crisis.

WaitMonkey Sun 01-Dec-13 22:57:20

Really, marriage is the best idea. Is there a reason you can't marry ? Sorry, don't answer if you don't want to.

friday16 Sun 01-Dec-13 22:59:08

Do you have to pay inheritance tax if you both own the house and it is willed to you by the other owner?

It depends on the terms of ownership. If you hold a house as tenants in common (ie, you each own a defined share, usually half) and you die, then if your esate including your share of the house is worth more than the IHT threshold (currently 325k) then IHT is payable. It's not necessarily payable immediately, and there are means to delay payment or pay it in instalments over, iirc, ten years. And of course you finesse the issue by holding the house as joint tenants, although that brings its own issues.

But if you hold a house as tenants in common, as is usual for unmarried couples, and your house is worth more than 650k, which is hardly rare in London, then the death of one partner will instantly take you into IHT, even if the payment of it does not have to be similarly instant.

scottishmummy Sun 01-Dec-13 22:59:50

Inform gp your his nok,get nok recorded anyone can be medical nok,not only wife nok leaflet

lilyaldrin Sun 01-Dec-13 23:00:58

friday - could you explain those points in a bit more detail? What if not tenants in common? What are LPoAs and EPoAs?

Gilberte Sun 01-Dec-13 23:02:22

Maybe the people who aren't married don't actually want to get married to the person who happens to have fathered their children.

In that case wills would be the sensible option surely?

friday16 Sun 01-Dec-13 23:05:31

joint responsibility for a spouses (individual) debt.

There is in general no such thing that is specific to married couples. Joint and several liability applies equally for married and unmarried couples when they enter into such arrangements. If you have a joint mortgage, or a joint bank account, then you are probably jointly and severally liable, married or not. If you have debts in your sole name, your partner is not liable, whether you are married or not. If you have specific examples as to why this is not true, describe them.

Gilberte Sun 01-Dec-13 23:05:33

Thanks for clarifying Friday. I am a joint tenant with DP. I really didn't realise that was not common for "unmarrieds"

scottishmummy Sun 01-Dec-13 23:08:22

Yes,I know it makes the mn massive gasp,clutching their pearl necklace
Some women dont want to be married,and no amount of harrumphing changes it
My giddy aunt, don't actually want to get married to the person who happens to have fathered their children....that's priceless esp the who if it was passing interloper who happens to spray his seed and get one knocked up

Bourdic Sun 01-Dec-13 23:08:22

State widows pension only payable if married- depending on financial circs that could be important

paperlantern Sun 01-Dec-13 23:08:45

Friday. except that is not true if you can "prove" they were run up in relation to the family finances. your spouse doesn't have a right to see them, but can be divided upon divorce

friday16 Sun 01-Dec-13 23:11:56

What if not tenants in common?

Then your house is not part of either person's estate, but is owned by the survivors automatically, with no IHT payable. The reason unmarried couples used to be advised against this (I was young, and it was all a long time ago) was that precisely because it was assumed that if you weren't married, you'd want your share to go to your beneficiaries not your partner. When I had a mortgage and wasn't married, in the mid-1980s, setting up joint tenancy raised some eyebrows.

LPoA is a Lasting Power of Attorney. EPoA is a thinko, the old Enduring Powers of Attorney have been replaced completely by LPoAs, but an EPoA is still valid if you have one. You can how can healthcare LPoAs, which allow you to give someone the power to speak for you over medical matters. Without one, an unmarried partner can be overridden by their partner's parents or siblings, no matter how long they've been living together or how many children they have. I'm not sure how you deal with that for your children (ie, mother dies, father and mother's parents disagree about medical treatment for child) because I solved the problem with a cheap wedding and a chinese meal afterwards before I had children.

Bourdic Sun 01-Dec-13 23:12:31

Whilst children young widowed mothers allowance can be worth over £100 a week

paperlantern Sun 01-Dec-13 23:12:39

I can now safely say I will not be marrying again until prenups become legal.

before you marry you assume that nasty divorce won't be yours. people are very generous with what they would do if the marriage split up before they actually get married.

Gilberte Sun 01-Dec-13 23:12:39

."...that's priceless esp the who if it was passing interloper who happens to spray his seed and get one knocked up"

Hey!! You may mock but I'm on your side of the argument. It came out the wrong way. I mean just because you have a baby with someone doesn't mean you necessarily want to marry them a few years down the line.

I know plenty of people in rocky relationships (trying to make it work because of the children) who definately shouldn't rush into marrying them

scottishmummy Sun 01-Dec-13 23:13:51

It was a funny turn of phrase,esp just happens.amused me

lilyaldrin Sun 01-Dec-13 23:16:20

friday - in the case that I died, what say would my parents have over the children? Surely it would just be up to their father?

Is LPoA something more than being named as next of kin on medical records?

friday16 Sun 01-Dec-13 23:19:39

In that case wills would be the sensible option surely?

Obviously. But there's a lot that wills can't do which marriage can.

except that is not true if you can "prove" they were run up in relation to the family finances

ie, you're jointly and severally liable. Could you describe a scenario where a couple with a joint mortgage and otherwise inter-twined finances would be liable for each other's debts by dint of being married, but wouldn't were they to be living together with some other legal structure?

deepfriedsage Sun 01-Dec-13 23:22:18

I think it was about 2003, that if unmarried Fathers attended the birth registrar they got automat pr as married Fathers do, prior to that or if not on bc they have to go to court for pr. If pre 2003, your parents trump your dp. Your dc get his share of equity, savings over you if he dies.

scottishmummy Sun 01-Dec-13 23:22:47

Medical Nok nominates whom you wish to be informed about your medical treatment
LPoA nomination form 2components1. Health,/social care

lilyaldrin Sun 01-Dec-13 23:24:27

DP has parental responsibility for the children.
Wills state everything goes to each other, then split equally between children. My sister named as children's guardian if we both die.

friday16 Sun 01-Dec-13 23:29:03

in the case that I died, what say would my parents have over the children? Surely it would just be up to their father?

So long as all the paperwork has been done to confirm he is the father. Marriage finesses all that. Wasn't there a thread on MN recently about someone who had a very high risk pregnancy and was worried about what would happen if she were either very ill or dead after the child was born and not just an episode of Studio Sixty?

Is LPoA something more than being named as next of kin on medical records?


lilyaldrin Sun 01-Dec-13 23:31:27

OK, so there would be a problem if I died/was incapacitated before we could register a baby, but otherwise DP has parental responsibility so is fine.

Is LPoA something important/necessary for unmarried couples to have?

AuntieStella Sun 01-Dec-13 23:35:05

You need to check his pension. Some older ones do not pay out at all to unmarried partners. But even if he nominates you as partner, that lasts only if he keeps your name on it. If he decides to remove it, you will get nothing (unlike after divorce, as you can then get variations to it as a marital asset).

Make sure you claim CB for the NI credit, so at least you get a state pension.

There is no way, other than by marriage, to secure qualification to any state bereavement benefits.

scottishmummy Sun 01-Dec-13 23:38:13

Are you in England,Wales,or Scotland. Slightly different rules apply btw,no such such thing as common law wife
lPOA is fir when you've lost capacity and appoint nominated person to act for you
It's free to do, I attached link. So yes I'd undertake it

lilyaldrin Sun 01-Dec-13 23:40:36

England. That link didn't work, but from the site it looks like it's £110 to apply?

eightandthreequarters Sun 01-Dec-13 23:45:52

If you are relying on wills, couldn't he simply change his as and when he pleased without informing you? And you could change yours. I'd be concerned about having my life sorted out in legal documents that any one party would undo, especially without the knowledge of the other party.

friday16 Sun 01-Dec-13 23:49:00

Is LPoA something important/necessary for unmarried couples to have?

Talk to a solicitor. Were one of you to be incapacitated, who would be able to access your sole-name assets? Were one of you to be incapacitated and require, for example, nursing care, who would get to choose the nursing home? Especially if, say, your partner's elderly parents or your own adult children disagreed?

Scenario: your fifty-five year old partner has a stroke and is severely incapacitated. You want to spend substantial portion of your joint assets, including some that are in his sole name, on residential rehabilitation when he is discharged. Your grabby twenty-six year old son, with whom you have a difficult relationship, wants to do it on the cheap to maximise "his" inheritance. His elderly parents think that nursing homes are where you go to die and want to see him nursed at home, preferably by you, although in extremis by them even though they're in their late seventies and couldn't cope, rather than "waste" money on any sort of nursing care. Who wins?

A will doesn't help: he's not dead. A living will is unlikely to contain enough detail. Social services and/or the court of protection might sort out the mess, but it'll take time. Name recorded as next of kin on medical records doesn't help, because the issue is spending money on nursing care. Your move.

scottishmummy Sun 01-Dec-13 23:50:46

LPOA forms,yes 110 fee make a list of tasks work though it
Pensions usually allow to nominate a beneficiary eg you

lilyaldrin Sun 01-Dec-13 23:52:54

He doesn't have a pension - I do and he is named as a beneficiary.

scottishmummy Sun 01-Dec-13 23:53:49

lPOA used health,social care when individual no longer has capacity nominates you to manage.Finances and Health,social care
You do need it recorded properly

lilyaldrin Sun 01-Dec-13 23:56:32

OK, so things I can do:
Medical NOK
Joint tenants if we buy property

Things I can't do anything about:
Widows benefits

eightandthreequarters Mon 02-Dec-13 00:01:46

So what does he do about a pension if you two split up and you name someone else as beneficiary?

I'd not thought much about the question in your OP before... but actually there really is nothing you can do that would confer the same benefits as being married, is there? It's a good question.

friday16 Mon 02-Dec-13 00:05:32

*OK, so things I can do:

You can do your own will.

You can't do your partner's.

There is no way to be confident that your partner's will doesn't leave his entire estate, including his pension, to his mistress you don't know about, or to the dogs' home, and if that happens then in England and Wales there is precious little you can do about it.

lilyaldrin Mon 02-Dec-13 00:07:53

I can't prevent him altering his will, but I do know what is in it initially.

eightandthreequarters Mon 02-Dec-13 00:08:34

He can sign a mirror will with you, and then make another will that contradicts the first. You could go to court over it, of course... but that would be expensive and probably futile. I think in terms of concrete legal protection of the sort that marriage would afford... the will gets you nowhere.

Hopefully a solicitor will have a better answer for that!

lilyaldrin Mon 02-Dec-13 00:10:02

Surely even if you are married you are free to alter your own will?

eightandthreequarters Mon 02-Dec-13 00:10:38

In terms of legal/financial protection in the long term... what good does it do you to know what's in it initially?

I want there to be a better answer to your question, so I hope you find one.

Squiffyagain Mon 02-Dec-13 00:11:45

As an aside, If the reason why you are avoiding marriage is because one of you is already married to someone else and that marriage cannot be dissolved, or because one of you has difficulty proving residency or similar, then I imagine the position will be far more complicated than has already been pointed out.

eightandthreequarters Mon 02-Dec-13 00:19:34

Because if you are married, he cannot make a will that gives away what is yours by right of marriage. Or he can make it, but it won't hold up.

ItsNotATest Mon 02-Dec-13 00:21:32

Your next of kin cannot make decisions or consent to medical treatment for you, married or not. That is a common misunderstanding which has cropped up several times in this thread.

lilyaldrin Mon 02-Dec-13 00:23:27

Who can consent to medical treatment/make decisions if you are incapacitated?

ItsNotATest Mon 02-Dec-13 00:26:39

Only someone you have given a health and welfare lasting power of attorney to.

scottishmummy Mon 02-Dec-13 00:26:58

If you've nominated your dp as medical nok, and LPOA then he will be consulted
Most hospitals get the nuances of cohabitation and would seek to approach a partner
Get LPOA recorded,same too nok

lilyaldrin Mon 02-Dec-13 00:30:38

So if we were married and one partner needed medical treatment but couldn't consent - who would?

Nyssalina Mon 02-Dec-13 00:33:07

Out of interest OP, being as marriage is certainly an excellent way to solve a lot of these issues, why is it absolutely off the cards? If you (as a couple) consider it a waste of time and don't believe in it, then why not just do the deed on the quiet and benefit from the protection it affords? Is it that you personally do believe in marriage and would like for your DP to propose in the future and so have the big 'do'? If that's the case, I can see why you wouldn't want to go through an official but unromantic ceremony...
Regarding whether or not a partner can cut you out of his will whether you are married or not, there's an interesting article here.
Essentially from what I understand, whether or not you're married, he can write you out of his will, but as either a 'cohabiting partner' or wife you have the same right to contest it and receive a greater portion of inheritance if the amount he leaves is not considered to be 'reasonable financial provision'.

ItsNotATest Mon 02-Dec-13 00:39:30

No-one would consent, doctors would act in the best interests of the patient. They would discuss with family/spouse/partner to try to gain an understanding of what the patient's views are likely to be, but none of those people can either make the decision or consent.

Allowing people to consent for medical treatment for someone else would be open to all sorts of potential abuse.

friday16 Mon 02-Dec-13 00:44:11

So if we were married and one partner needed medical treatment but couldn't consent - who would?

Doctors acting in their perception of the patients' best interests.

Usually this is what you'd have agreed to anyway (leaving aside issues like JWs and blood transfusions).

However, the fun can start when it involves DNR notices or their absence.

As others have pointed out, spouses don't have "rights" by virtue of marriage, but there's a lot of caselaw, custom and practice which says that there's a very, very wide window in which they'll accept a spouse's view. So the range of options a spouse can consent to, or not, on their spouse's behalf is going to be very wide.

It's not as wide as the range they'll accept when the patient themselves is giving or withholding consent (which requires sectioning to overturn), but I suspect that cases where a spouse's opinion is overridden are few and far between and mostly involve DNR.

I would further suspect that as you go down some hierarchy of parents, children, unmarried partners, etc (in some order) the range of options doctors will accept from you before they mutter about going to court is progressively narrower.

AnAdventureInCakeAndWine Mon 02-Dec-13 00:46:22

Things you can't do anything about:
Widows benefits
Inheritance tax (less of an issue if you are joint tenants, though)
Rights over partner's pension (not currently an issue for you but if you're going to SAH while he WOH it could become one)

I'm not sure what happens with unmarried couples in regard to the family home if the relationship breaks down. If you're married then on divorce there can if appropriate be an order that the residential parent can continue to live in the family home with children until children are all adults; don't know if that's an option on breakdown of an unmarried relationship but I suspect not (you'd need to check with a solicitor).

ItsNotATest Mon 02-Dec-13 00:52:27

So the range of options a spouse can consent to, or not, on their spouse's behalf is going to be very wide.

The range is non-existent. A spouse cannot consent unless they have a LPOA.

Sunnysummer Mon 02-Dec-13 00:53:09

My biggest concern would be that whatever reason that marriage is 'off the table' is what will cause problems in the end. If it's because one of you has had a previous marriage with kids etc and is gunshy, then if anything happens to one of you then the outcome could be very complex due to the multiple claims. This is even more true if one of you is still legally married to someone else.

Or if it is because he refuses even to secretly sign a piece of paper at a registry office for 50 quid to give you protection, then I would be very concerned about his level of commitment and whether he would actually support you properly if you split, let alone with wills.

Abother boring but practical point - if he is earning enough that you are able to stay at home for even a little while, why does he not have a pension? If you stay together, this is likely to be important much sooner than wills or powers of attorney. When he does get his pension, you also need to check whether you benefit from it without marriage.

Definitely get to a solicitor.

holidaysarenice Mon 02-Dec-13 00:57:05

* I'm not sure how you deal with that for your children (ie, mother dies, father and mother's parents disagree about medical treatment for child)*

The medical profession will pay no heed to the grandparents. It goes to the father.

If the father cannot prove he is the father ie not on birth certificate. He will have to go to court. In the mean time non important decisions will not be made. A life saving op would be decided 'in the childs best interests by medics' any controversial treatment, the medical team get a judge to decide.

At no time can the grandparents make the decision.

holidaysarenice Mon 02-Dec-13 01:01:38

Where medicine is concerned the best way to think is that
'no adult can consent for another adult.'

Ultimately you can make a lpoa deed giving someone else the ability to make a decision, not to make their decision - doctors must consider that they are making a decision that respects your thoughts/choices and judgements on it would be.

friday16 Mon 02-Dec-13 01:49:11

A spouse cannot consent unless they have a LPOA.

In every geriatric clinic in every hospital in the country, practice says you are wrong. Health LPoAs have only existed for about ten years. Are you seriously saying that in every case in which someone who does not have one made out in their spouses' favour and registered (a minuscule proportion of the population) doctors are paying little heed to the spouses' wishes over DNR, and are either working without consent or via the court of protection?

SatinSandals Mon 02-Dec-13 08:28:08

My solicitor said that she was responsible for 7 couples marrying this year, once she has explained everything in detail marriage is much the easiest option.

SatinSandals Mon 02-Dec-13 08:29:56

I still think that once you have made your list in here you will have missed something that you will only find out about in a crisis, rather like the small print in travel insurance. If you don't marry you need a solicitor going over it with a 'fine tooth comb'.

FeisMom Mon 02-Dec-13 09:11:12

No amount of legal paperwork - apart from a marriage certificate can give you:

- Widowed parents allowance
- Spousal maintenance

One way or another your relationship will end, either in death or by splitting up, as a SAHP one of the above will make a huge difference to your situation at a devastating time.

FeisMom Mon 02-Dec-13 09:16:12

Do either of you have children separately or have been previously married?

If your DP has an ex-wife or adult children, they or his parents would be legal NoK, able to banish you from his hospital bedside, or even force the sale of your home to get their inheritance.

Chunderella Mon 02-Dec-13 09:24:03

Below is a copy and paste from a post I made on another thread about this issue. This is a reasonably comprehensive list of the benefits you can only get from being married, though there may be some others I've missed:

^I have zero interest in convincing you to get married OP, but what I do care about is that you know there are some protections offered by marriage that you can't get in any other way. Because only when you know what these are can you decide whether they're relevant to you and your partner. A lot can be taken care of with good wills and a NOK form, whch you absolutely must do if you're not going to get wed, but it can't all be.

1. Each person gets an inheritance tax exemption allowance, currently 325k. If one spouse doesn't use all theirs, the survivor can have the unused amount. This tends to be most useful when the home is worth more than 325k and less than 750k. Unmarried partners cannot use each other's unused allowance. there are people who have ended up having to sell the shared home after one partner dies, in order to pay the IHT bill. It happens. It may be possible to hold assets in trust to get around this, but it isn't watertight like the statutory right to use your spouse's unused allowance. HMRC don't challenge spousal exemptions, they sometimes challenge trusts. If you think this isn't relevant to you because you have too few assets, great, but do keep an eye on both your own net worth and the threshold!

2. If widowed with a child under 18, you can claim widowed parents allowance. You can't if you weren't married. This is about £105 a week. Only you can decide whether finances are such that this is worth doing.

3. If one of you isn't British and/or you intend to live elsewhere in the world, it will be much more straightforward to be married than not. it is boatloads easier to demonstrate to immigration authorities that you are married than that you are cohabiting (I am an immigration solicitor so believe me I know!). Sometimes an unmarried partnership doesn't even qualify, for immigration purposes, unless you've lived together a certain time. There is no such restriction with married couples. Also, there are some countries that won't allow you to live together there unless you're married.

4. If a married couple divorce and one of them is significantly worse off than the other, they may be able to claim spousal maintenance. Particularly if the poorer spouse has limited their own earnings in order to care for children, or to spend time building up a family business. This is not possible if the couple were not married. Whether you think this is a good thing or not depends on your individual circumstances.

5. A lot of the protections you would have are statutory, rather than voluntary as they would be if unmarried. For example, unmarried couples could make joint wills specifying the wish to provide for each other in the event of death. but there's nothing to stop one party unilaterally changing it. It is possible to challenge wills, but is an extremely expensive process and if you can't prove you've been cohabiting for at least two years, not an easy one either.^

If any of those things are particularly important to you, you need to be damn sure that not getting married is even more important.

Chunderella Mon 02-Dec-13 09:25:31

Italics fail.

SatinSandals Mon 02-Dec-13 09:35:39

Number one is just such a point that you might miss, especially helpful to me- I only discovered it last year when making wills.
The other thing is- make sure DP doesn't have an accident when abroad.

lilyaldrin Mon 02-Dec-13 09:44:24

Thanks Chunderella, very informative.

OrlandoWoolf Mon 02-Dec-13 09:45:41

Maybe the Government should look at ways of protecting people in relationships who are not married. I think the issues are pensions, next of kin,inheritance, children etc. Granted being married helps with these but many people are in relationships with children and are not married.

Just saying get married is not helpful if you do not want to get married.

FeisMom Mon 02-Dec-13 09:55:17

Orlando, but why would the government want to put in place a system to protect people, when the system already exists? That is what marriage is, legal, societal and financial commitment.

It's like saying, I want a system that will give me free at point of service health care, access to a Doctor, hospital and emergency care, but I don't want to use the NHS.

friday16 Mon 02-Dec-13 09:57:05

Just saying get married is not helpful if you do not want to get married.

Unless you're five years old, stamping your foot and demanding that you be treated differently because you're special is never a good look.

How would these things that protect pensions, housing, tax affairs, next of kin issues and children, but are not marriages, differ from marriages? After all, we pandered to bigots by inventing the entirely artificial "civil partnerships" which are marriages in all but name, and if someone very carefully refuses to refer to a couple who have one as "marriage" you can be pretty sure they're a con-evo with ishooes.

If you want those protections, put on your jeans, nip to the register office, sign the paperwork and leave. It'll cost fifty quid, and you don't need to tell anyone. How does this differ from some parallel "marriage in all but name" arrangement, other than appeasing a few people who are still living in 1975 and think cohabitation makes them dangerous radicals?

Chunderella Mon 02-Dec-13 10:01:43

It's a difficult one Orlando because at least some of the people who live together instead of getting married have actively chosen to do that, specifically because they don't want some of the provisions you acquire on marriage. I can see that there are people who are placed in very difficult positions: the term 'common law spouse' has a great deal to answer for and if I had my way it would be balanced from the face of the earth. It frightens me how many people there are, usually women, who make great financial sacrifices to care for children, help with partner's business etc in the mistaken belief that they'd be entitled to help if something goes wrong. But on the other hand, there are people who want to be able to live together without acquiring the same legal status as a married couple. It suits them better. Some of them argue it's unfair for their preferred arrangement to be altered because of people who either didn't know that you can only get some benefits by getting married, or did know but wanted to be able to have them anyway.

I see your point about it being unhelpful to tell people to just get married even when they've made it clear they don't want to. But people do need to know that if they want certain things, marriage is the only way to get them. I don't think everyone should get married, unless everyone wants to of course, but everyone ought to know the facts before deciding.

OrlandoWoolf Mon 02-Dec-13 10:05:07

I think the biggest issue is how many people in long term relationships are unaware of what could happen if one of them dies etc and then they are left in real problems such as have been explained on here.

People are obviously aware of the NHS etc. But how many people in a co-habiting relationship truly understand the implications of it?

Chunderella Mon 02-Dec-13 10:08:52

FeisMom generally the reason offered is that some people mistakenly believe themselves to have acquired the protections of marriage by living together, and end up in a right old mess when the shit hits the fan. That happens more than you might think, particularly in the context of an increasing number of homes being worth 325k-650k. As people are choosing more and more to have children outside marriage ie society no longer reflects the law, there's an argument that the law ought to be altered to better reflect society.

Ultimately I think whatever you do, someone's going to end up getting screwed over. There's an argument for civil partnerships for straight couples, not just on equality grounds (it really isn't fair that gay people are going to be able to choose marriage or CP whereas straight couples will have fewer options) but also to accommodate people like OP. But even then, that wouldn't do anything to help people who simply don't know the different rights offered by different setups. I seem to remember reading research suggesting that there are a lot more of them than there are of people who know everything but just prefer not to get married anyway.

IrnBruTheNoo Mon 02-Dec-13 10:12:22

"It is much cheaper to get married, you can just pop to the registry office and find 2 witnesses. A solicitor charges a lot."

So true!

gindrinker Mon 02-Dec-13 10:14:25

Marriage is just a contract.
You dont need a white dress or guests or anything. Sign the paperwork get the benefits.

My mum got married to my dad because he'd got a job abroad and she couldn't go with him unless they were married.

I say this as a childless unmarried cohabitee. But I'm never going to have a baby without a marriage certificate and I might get married for the next of kin benefits when I get older.

emsyj Mon 02-Dec-13 10:17:25

It is not correct that there is no IHT payable if you own as joint tenants. The estate that you can will to others is NOT the same as the value of the estate that IHT is assessable on. If you are not married and you own the house as joint tenants, if one of you dies the other will automatically inherit the deceased's share BUT that does NOT mean the value of that share does not form part of the estate for IHT purposes. It does.

Not making any other comments other than to say - you cannot replicate the legal position of a spouse, however much money you throw at it and however good a lawyer you hire. Also be aware that your partner could change his will at any time and you would never know.

LauraTrashley Mon 02-Dec-13 10:17:59

What about if one had to give evidence against the other in court? Does the protection of spouse/ civil partner still apply to unmarried couples?

OrlandoWoolf Mon 02-Dec-13 10:18:42

"But I'm never going to have a baby without a marriage certificate and I might get married for the next of kin benefits when I get older."

Life can get in the way. What if you become pregnant and your DP does not want to get married?

friday16 Mon 02-Dec-13 10:25:38

it really isn't fair that gay people are going to be able to choose marriage or CP whereas straight couples will have fewer options

The whole thing's a mess because Gordon Brown was a coward (in this as in so many other things). The right solution was to simply extend marriage to same-sex couples. And indeed, that's what's now happening. All the predictions of parliamentary chaos were completely unfounded. The Church of England folded before the first hand was dealt, a few noisy shire-county bigots made speeches of quite startling unpleasantness which I'm sure they'll regret in the fullness of time, and...what? Anglican Mainstream and their ilk were left at the side of the road when they found that no only did no-one think them worth agreeing with, no-one even found them worth listening to.

We could have solved this issue straightforwardly by a simple piece of legislation. Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 is such a simple piece of legislation, because all the talk from bigots about how it would involve amending two million pieces of legislation was, as you'd predict, nonsense. Instead, because Brown was a moral coward, we got the stupidity of a special "almost but not quite" class of marriage, designed to appease the major force that is the Church of England. Five years later, Cameron quite properly told Welby to get stuffed, and Welby realised that he had no support at all.

How many Civil Partnerships will be enacted once Same-Sex Marriage is available? For practical purposes, none. I suspect the legislation will be allowed to wither, rather than be repealed, but the only people who seriously advanced extended Civil Partnerships to opposite-sex couples were people trying to use it as a wrecking amendment for SSM.

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Mon 02-Dec-13 10:30:56

Agree strongly with all the other posters.

If you are concerned about this sort of thing, then you really should get married, you do not have to do it in the romantic sense but purely as a legal thing, as you will be doing anyway but going the long and complicated and expensive way round it.

I say this because I have seen too many non married friends now in punary struggling with no financial help, no stability when they have been the bedrock of the relationship and sacrificed their own careers for the husbands and the children. Now they have nothing.

I also say this as someone who knows how wide open the law can be, and how open to interpretation it can be when any other parties come into the equation or any sightly confusing things happen.

Its imperative you tie things down as firmly as you can and the ultimate way to do that, is through marriage.

sashh Mon 02-Dec-13 10:32:03

in the case that I died, what say would my parents have over the children? Surely it would just be up to their father?

I have no idea whether that's true or not, but if I were in your position I would find out and not assume.

NotCitrus Mon 02-Dec-13 10:32:17

Marriage is just a contract - with the government, where the government can change the terms at any point without nullifying the contract, and where the contract can't be amended to suit your individual circumstances.

In any other circs, it's the sort of unfair contract consumer columns would be warning people to steer well clear of. Unfortunately it's the only contract available that provides the benefits listed upthread.

For reference, MrNC and I were together for a decade, then decided to get married one afternoon without telling anyone - though we ended up letting our parents come and take us out for a meal after, and I had to tell a senior guy at work as it was the only way to get him off the phone so I could leg it to the registry office!

gindrinker Mon 02-Dec-13 10:39:27

Orlando - if he wouldn't marry me for the legal protection. I'd probably walk away.
Ive also got to 30 without even a pregnancy scare let alone a pregnancy. The chances of this are slim to nil.

passedgo Mon 02-Dec-13 10:53:25

And since these vague half-baked ideas of changing the cohabitation rules have been being discussed by vague governments I have put off my decision to get married and am now 10 years further down the line with 10 years less pension rights. It is the most pathetic bits of vagueness I have ever seen in recent years from government. All driven by fear of damnation from the Archbishop of Canterbury, when quite frankly, who pays my pension and who looks after our children has absolutely nothing to do with him or anyone else. It is a private contract. Feeble excuse to oppress women I think, less about fear of gay marriage.

friday16 Mon 02-Dec-13 11:04:57

And since these vague half-baked ideas of changing the cohabitation rules have been being discussed by vague governments

No they haven't, or at least not seriously. It's never got to the stage of a green, never mind a white, paper, has it?

The problems with re-working cohabitation rules are cohabitation covers a multitude of, er, sins. There are people who, for all sorts of reasons, want to live together without creating an obligation to each other. I'm old enough to remember that being precisely the argument against marriage in the early 1980s when I knew people who noisily asserted they would never marry and then in every case did, about a year or so prior to having a late, only child. Would they have marriage rights and obligations forced upon them? There would be massive definitional problems that would leave a lot of people out in the cold: what's the definition of cohabitation? For how long? Do children change it? And so on.

The CofE has no political force over this; they were completely unable to even put up a token resistance against same-sex marriage, and they have been forced into a humiliating climb-down over women bishops because the government essentially threatened to go no-contact with them. Any system of according rights to couples that cohabit would require some sort of registration phase from which rights accrue. We have that: it's called a marriage. Providing for refuseniks who think they're making a point by not marrying is so low down on the government's list you'd need the Hubble Space Telescope to even see it.

I have put off my decision to get married and am now 10 years further down the line with 10 years less pension rights.

Your choice, and no-one else's fault.

SatinSandals Mon 02-Dec-13 11:17:36

People make such huge assumptions- I lose track of the number of times people say 'it is just a piece of paper'- you hope they don't get to a position where 'the shit hits the fan' because then they will know that it is far more!

passedgo Mon 02-Dec-13 11:19:28

But there have over the past 10 years been lots of discussions (in the media anyway) about issues such as contact rights to fathers, pension rights to partners etc, maintenance payments, enough in the media to make me believe that something might change to bring this aspect of law into the modern world.

Looks like we will have to get married then...

SatinSandals Mon 02-Dec-13 11:21:46

You don't have to have a 'wedding' to get married. I know a couple without children, she is a lawyer, and they just met at the registry office at lunch time, took a couple of work colleagues to be witnesses and went back to work.

TessDurbeyfield Mon 02-Dec-13 11:26:41

The Church of England supported the Law Commission's proposals to give greater rights to cohabitants. If you are interested you can read their response from this link here. That is not at all the reason for inaction. The reason for inaction is that it is too much of a political risk to be seen to be 'undermining marriage' and so complicated that it requires careful solutions so it has been shelved.

ElfontheShelfIsWATCHINGYOUTOO Mon 02-Dec-13 11:45:46

I get the impression its the op who has the assests and not her Dp

Nyssalina Mon 02-Dec-13 11:55:53

I've just been chatting to my mum about this thread and she told me a rather scary story. One of her good friend's sisters was recently hospitalised in the end stages of alcoholism, which is pretty tragic in itself. She had been with her partner for over 20 years and they have a daughter who is just 20. At the point of no return, the decision about life support being turned off needed to be made, and the hospital rang the 20yr old daughter to make the decision, as she was the official next of kin shock I suppose they could have avoided this with a medical LPoA...?

Chunderella Mon 02-Dec-13 12:16:02

Friday I think there will be a small but significant number of gay people who will not choose marriage even when they're able to, because some of them don't want anything to do with an institution that they feel has historically excluded gay people eg Matthew Parris, John Barrowman. I have met some gay couples who are planning to 'upgrade' their CPs as soon as possible, though. My guess is that most people who are currently CPs will probably stick with that just because it's easier, but gay couples who get together in the future will pick marriage rather than CP.

Laura iirc the rule about not being forced to give evidence against your spouse is also only for married/CP people. But I'm not a criminal solicitor so I could be wrong! Also on grounds of practicality, I doubt the CPS would want to force someone to give evidence against their partner unless it was totally unavoidable. It's a good way to pretty much force a person into perjury, which really isn't in anyone's interests.

What good does it do to your children if you leave everything to each other, and he then later marries, have new children? His new partner and children will share your property with your kids. Heck, he may not even leave the property to your kids at all!

If you have chosen to have children together, and buy property together, it is odd not to get married. It is legal protection for you both and your children. Why not just pop down to the register office and get it sorted, seeing as you are already committed with kids and property plans?

I also suggest you find a job.

Oh, you are protecting yourself by NOT choosing marriage?

Chunderella Mon 02-Dec-13 13:06:30

OP if you're the one with the assets and you don't want to get married in order to ensure DP has no claim, whether this is a good idea or not will partly depend on exactly how much you're worth. This is going to sound like it slightly contradicts what I said upthread but here goes.

While it's difficult and expensive to successfully challenge a will as a cohabiting partner, it's possible. However, it can cost tens of thousands in legal fees easily. So if the asset you want to protect is a 120k home you own outright, there isn't as much incentive for a partner to challenge your will (and conversely, the IHT exemption would be irrelevant to you). The costs would eat up a much higher percentage of any financial gain. Whereas if you've got millions, it might well be worth a partner gambling 50k on the legal fees. And I suspect you'd have a much better chance of finding a solicitor to help you on a no win, no fee basis, although I don't practice in this area at all so could be entirely wrong about that. So although realistically it won't be financially viable for the majority of bereaved cohabitants to contest the will, your family might be in the minority. Actually you and DP might even want to take legal advice separately.

IrnBruTheNoo Mon 02-Dec-13 13:09:04

DH and I got married for legal reasons, not for romantic ones (unlike most couples). We did it because we wanted a family and made sure that legally all was above board should anything happen to either of us in the future. We did not want complications for the DC. Thinking waaaaaay ahead....

lilyaldrin Mon 02-Dec-13 13:15:23

I don't have any assets and would be quite happy to get married.

Squiffyagain Mon 02-Dec-13 13:21:37

So, what's stopping you?

sashh Mon 02-Dec-13 13:38:16


Did you just propose?

IrnBruTheNoo Mon 02-Dec-13 13:43:01

Marriage doesn't have to be romantic, as others have already pointed out, you can just get it done in your lunch break (it really is a quick ceremony).

Bragadocia Mon 02-Dec-13 13:48:07

As a few people have mentioned the Widowed Parents Allowance, it's just worth noting that the govt are getting rid of the current system in 2016, so it won't be worth nearly as much in future for new claimants.
mumsnet thread

IrnBruTheNoo Mon 02-Dec-13 13:49:02

What? You mean I got married all for nothing if DH pops his clogs?

FeisMom Mon 02-Dec-13 13:50:11

But your DP doesn't presumably?

I suggest that you show him this thread and let him think about the vulnerable position that you are being put in. Any decent man would not want his partner and children to be protected.

Chunderella Mon 02-Dec-13 13:52:41

Presumably the other half of the partnership squiffy! In that case OP the short answer is that you can't obtain the same legal protections as a married person, and as an unmarried SAHP with no assets you are in a relatively vulnerable position legally and financially. In terms of the things I mentioned, this is what you can do:

1. IHT- this may not be relevant. If it is, get advice on trust funds and/or ensure there is money in place to pay any IHT without you having to leave the family home in the event of bereavement.

2. Widowed parents allowance- you're just not going to be able to get it. You might want to take out insurance/amend the existing to reflect this.

3. Immigration- there are some countries you won't be able to live in together. If one of you isn't British or EEA and needs permission to be in the UK, you'll have to make the more complicated unmarried partner application. If neither of these things are an issue for you, forget about this one.

4. Spousal maintenance- in the event of a split you'll just have to do without, if DP doesn't want to give it to you. With this in mind, you may or may not want to reconsider your working arrangements and/or whether to have more children.

5. Wills- as you've said already, you both need to make good ones. You will both have to accept the risk that the other partner might unilaterally change theirs, but then you'll also be able to do that too if you want.

And obviously get your NOK sorted out too.

Chunderella Mon 02-Dec-13 13:54:45

And if you're going to be widowed make sure you do it before 2016, apparently!

IrnBruTheNoo Mon 02-Dec-13 13:57:17

lol @ chunderella - I was being light hearted too in my previous post.

FrequentFlyerRandomDent Mon 02-Dec-13 13:59:03

I am sorry. If you and your partner are ready to raise children, buy together and spend £££ on solicitor contracts to ensure you both have a level of protection similar to what marriage provides, you may as well get married.

If your families are the issue, do not tell them.

Although reading this thread, I wonder if the only reason is not fear of divorce costs.

girlynut Mon 02-Dec-13 14:10:06

DP and I chose not to get married. We own property together and have young children. We took the following steps -

House is owned as joint tenants so that it will go to the survivor upon death. Joint bank account will also pass to survivor. Individual assets are left to each other in mirror wills (less than Nil rate band of £325k so no inheritance tax to pay)

Lasting PoAs if we become incapcitated and Living Wills if we need each other to make the decision to pull the plug.

Cohabitation Agreement - in case we split we've set out exactly what our intentions are in relation to ownership of the house and other assets, care of the children, etc. We have the same income / capital assets and both work full time so there would be no spousal maintenance.

I guess the only thing we'd lose out on is a widow's pension and they're ending soon anyway.

So your dp does not want to get married.

But he wants you to stay home and look after house and his kids, while he works and get on with his career?

He does not want you to have any rights, or the legal protection marriage offers you and his kids.

Get a job. Dont be a sahm. You are leaving yourself extremely vulnerable.

flowery Mon 02-Dec-13 14:29:56

OP you've asked what steps you need to take to ensure you have all the same protection as you would with marriage.

But if your DP isn't prepared to marry you and give you all that protection easily and quickly do you actually know he'd be prepared to take all those steps to try and replicate marriage anyway?

ThurlHoHoHo Mon 02-Dec-13 14:33:49

We're not married and have 1 DC. We currently have no plans to get married. We own the house jointly, are named beneficiaries of pensions and life insurance, have a will, have power of attorney for each other, all the things that people are mentioning.

At the moment, this is fine for us as we both work f/t and earn roughly the same amount of money. Neither of us currently needs legal protection etc should we split up.

But for all that, if we decided that I should be a SAHM or significantly affect my career and earnings through going p/t, I would insist on marriage. I don't believe in marriage personally, but it's the only current legal protection available in the situation where one half of a couple is earning all the money and the other is not working.

Seriously, I'm quite anti-marriage but this is the one situation where the only real legal protection currently available in the UK is marriage.

Nyssalina Mon 02-Dec-13 14:49:51

It's quite obvious now that it's the 'D'P who's the problem here. He's the one presumably telling the OP that 'marriage is just a piece of paper' and 'we don't want any of that old fashioned nonsense', or he's scarred from a previous marriage and doesn't want to go there again. It's the OP who as SAHM is being left in an increasingly vulnerable situation in which she could be left with nothing and no one at the drop of a hat.
You need to have a serious talk with him OP and show him that marriage is the only fair way to ensure protection for you whilst you care for his children and keep his house in order. If it's the pomp and circumstance of a (second?) marriage that he is not happy with, then I think you need to put away your own fantasies of a big 'do' and convince him that a registry office quickie is the answer.

MollyWhuppie Mon 02-Dec-13 14:50:58

Really the only way to protect yourself is either work and earn your own money or get married. I wouldn't want to be a SAHM and not be married.

OrlandoWoolf Mon 02-Dec-13 15:02:11

If a couple who are not married separate and one is a SAHM, what is the main financial disadvantage compared to a couple who divorce and one is a SAHM?

There are plenty of threads about exes who do not pay maintenance. What is the advantage on separation a married SAHM has over one who is an unmarried SAHM?

PiratePanda Mon 02-Dec-13 15:07:16

Well, he really does have you over a barrel OP, doesn't he? I'm sorry for you. So yes, you should do what you can legally to protect your/your family's interests; second best is better than nothing.

ThurlHoHoHow Mon 02-Dec-13 15:17:38

Orlando, I believe the difference is that when a married couple with children split, the husband (for example) owes not just child support but spousal support. In the case of an unmarried couple, there is no spousal support. Hence why in my particular unmarried example, I don't feel that either me or DP have had our earnings and career affected, so no need for spousal support. For a SAHM there is a definite need for spousal support.

Exes not paying maintence is a different problem all together.

WhosLookingAfterCourtney Mon 02-Dec-13 15:30:26

Op we got married this year for the same reasons - i'm a sahm, gave up work to raise the kids.

It took a year from first floating the idea to him proposing last Christmas, with much heated discussionin between.

Spell out to him what would/could happen to you and the dcs if your relationship ended unamicably.

Chunderella Mon 02-Dec-13 15:31:55

Yes that's right Thurl. The difference is that a spouse may be entitled to a court order for spousal maintenance even if the other spouse objects. That's not true for unmarried partners. Obviously not all maintenance orders are necessarily honoured (although I think court orders are more likely to be observed than CSA). But a spouse still has the possibility, whereas an unmarried partner doesn't. Not everyone considers this to be an advantage though, it depends on personal views and circumstances. In OPs case, it would be.

CaroBeaner Mon 02-Dec-13 15:39:51

Do you currently own property?
Does he?

If you buy property together you can, as Friday says, buy as tenants in common. You each own a separate specified stake in the property, and can each leave that to whoever you like. So you could leave yours directly to your children.

If you buy as joint tenants you won the property together as a partnership and if one dies the other automatically inherits.

My friend owns much more of the equity in their house and does not want it to go straight to her DP should she die - she did not wish to marry as she did not want her DP to gain equal rights over her hard won house should they divorce. I think these are significant issues. Men can have babies until late in life. I would want my property to go to my children, not be shared via my DH to any new ones he might have after my death!

SatinSandals Mon 02-Dec-13 16:17:43

If you don't get married I would make sure that you work full time.

Bourdic Mon 02-Dec-13 18:30:00

Widows pension isn't ending - not the state one

Bourdic Mon 02-Dec-13 18:33:40

Oh goodness - just caught up with that - well hopefully it won't happen!

scottishmummy Mon 02-Dec-13 22:42:23

I think woman should earn own money anyway,not depend on matrimonial stipend
Im not sure of the distinction,unmarried dont be housewife?married it's ok he's paying?
At what point did it become clear to you he was not want to marry?had you both discussed or hadn't it come up

FeisMom Mon 02-Dec-13 23:59:34

SM you're right in an ideal world women should earn their own money, but practically speaking for a great many couples, once children come along, it becomes impossible for both parents to work outside the home full time.

Unfortunately it is usually the woman that is the lower paid of the two and therefore they give up work, thereby wiping out their income and doing lots of damage to their future earning potential. Therefore if it comes to a split it is only right that the ex husband should also financially support his ex wife.

FitzgeraldProtagonist Tue 03-Dec-13 00:24:31

Oh my god, this thread is like my bloody village. I want to go around screaming "BECAUSE HE HASN'T BLOODY ASKED ME" the whole time.

passedgo Tue 03-Dec-13 01:53:10

sssh I had thought about marriage and proposing today, but then I read TessDarby's post with her reference to the Synod supporting cohabiting couples rights. Seems it is government unwillingness to change this that's stoppling progress, not the Church.

And I still see the only advantage to me being married is maintenance support which I won't need. I want to see my life as separate, we have both put in equally.

Chunderella Tue 03-Dec-13 07:33:55

Scottish yes exactly, that's the distinction. Though you were being sarky, you were also right! If either parent is going to stay at home, they are much better off married because of the possibility of spousal maintenance and, while it still lasts, widows pension. I get that you don't approve but that doesn't make it any less true...

Fitzgerald you don't say whether you want to get married, but if you do then what's stopping you being the one to ask?

OddBoots Tue 03-Dec-13 07:51:11

If your DP doesn't have a pension and you don't own a property then becoming a SAHM has some pretty heavy long term financial implications unless your pension is already huge. In my opinion that needs to be mitigated for just as much as remaining unmarried.

IrnBruTheNoo Tue 03-Dec-13 08:13:36

One or the other doesn't have to's an idea - you can actually discuss it! That's how I ended up getting married, we just chatted about it and done it. No proposal as such smile

Timetoask Tue 03-Dec-13 08:20:22

You have joint children.
Are you committed to each other?
Just get married. what is the problem? Is he already married to someone else?

passedgo Tue 03-Dec-13 08:32:05

Oddboots what are the financial implications - other than spousal maintenance after separation and widow's pension (which is due to be changed)?

It doesn't sit right with me that somebody pays my hairdressing bill after children are grown up. It also wouldn't sit right if, following a breakup my ex had to go and live in a bedsit somewhere while I swanned around the family home with my new partner.

In terms of after death - I know people who died intestate, decisions about medical treatment were decided among the family, probate was arranged by the person most able to do all the work (it is a lot of work) and estate went to their children, contested by a partner but under discussion. Not that I advocate this, but there are procedures which enable fairness/justice even when there is no Will.

EvilRingahBitch Tue 03-Dec-13 08:35:21

OP, you asked this "as a SAHM". In that case I think spousal maintenance is the biggy. What you need is a pseudo-prenup recognising your work supporting the family, and sacrifice of career and earnings potential and giving you the right to spousal support in the future should you break up. Clearly this would be a sod to negotiate and won't come cheap. I'll leave the practicing lawyers on this thread to talk about the limits of enforceability of such a contract.

If that's not practical (presumably not) then at the very least you need to look at every asset under your DP's control with an eagle eye to make sure that your right to equal shares is clearly recorded.

TessDurbeyfield Tue 03-Dec-13 08:45:14

passego - I didn't mean to put you off! Just that I don't think any Govt is going to do anything about this any time soon. It's just too low down the priority list, risks lots of headlines about trying to destroy marriage and is just far too complex to deal with quickly.

BTW I don't think you'd get spousal maintenance along those lines even if you did want it after a break-up. Now it's usually about helping the SAHM partner (in this context) to get back on her feet rather than a meal ticket for life

FeisMom Tue 03-Dec-13 08:55:29

Fitzgerald it is not 1913, why do you have to sit back waiting to be asked? No-one needs to ask, it should be the kind of important decision that is discussed, in the same way as starting a family, who (if anyone) will reduce their work commitments to be the primary carer; which schools they will go to; moving house etc etc

Marriage is too often tied up with a sparkly ring, big romantic proposals, week long hen and stag dos and "the biggest day of your life", those who say it is a bit of paper are right, it is a legal document that protects your rights under law.

SatinSandals Tue 03-Dec-13 09:00:00

That is what I thought FeisMom. It seems mad to have got children, be doing childcare and not having discussed it.

friday16 Tue 03-Dec-13 09:20:32

It's just too low down the priority list, risks lots of headlines about trying to destroy marriage and is just far too complex to deal with quickly.

It's not only complex, it also is not at all clear what "deal(ing) with" it means.

If you're 22, or 32, what some people want is that cohabitation gives rights like joint tenancies, some marriage-lite rights over mutual children, etc.

But take for example an elderly widow and widower who move in together, for companionship in old age. They each sell their houses, purchase somewhere jointly, and each have reasonable incomes from pensions and the like. Their wills are drawn in favour of their own children and the property is a tenants in common protecting the equity they both brought to the relationship. One of them becomes frail, the other dies, and the frail partner's children decide to have a crack at getting some of the deceased partner's assets. For extra entertainment, perhaps one of the frail partner's children had moved in to the spare room to help care for their parent. That's a case where it would be iniquitous to create some sort of retrospective marriage-lite solely by dint of their cohabitation, and it seems wrong that they would have to enter into complex legal instruments to keep their assets separate.

passedgo Tue 03-Dec-13 09:22:42

Thanks for explaining Tess. So far marriage hasn't offered me enough advantages, particularly in relation to autonomy over the children. Although he would want and intend to do the best thing for the children, he wouldn't actually. I think it's not about money for me. Sorry OP if I'm hijacking.

passedgo Tue 03-Dec-13 09:28:38

Friday your example of the elderly couple would surely mean it would be a good thing to have a retrospective marriage-lite for co-habiting couples? That's what I'm hoping for, especially after 30 years of wiping someone's tea stains off the worktop.

friday16 Tue 03-Dec-13 09:36:04

your example of the elderly couple would surely mean it would be a good thing to have a retrospective marriage-lite for co-habiting couples

Seriously? Two people aged 75 are widowed, sell their houses and move in together. Two years later one of them dies. In the absence of a will, all the deceased partner's assets go to the other, and their children are disinherited? Then the second partner dies, and their children get the whole lot, while the first partner's children get nothing? How would that be just?

That's what I'm hoping for, especially after 30 years

But in my example, there would have been two years. They're different scenarios. That's why it would be incredibly complex to create something that covers all the cases.

Gilberte Tue 03-Dec-13 09:50:49

This thread prompted a heated conversation with DP last night.

His attitude is that men in what he calls "traditional set-ups" go out to work and earn money which "enables" their partners to do more of the childcare. It sounded like he thinks men are doing women a big favour and that is not an attitude I want to be married to.

To be fair he did once say he would love to be a SAHP but I've never been that convinced he would enjoy it as much as he thinks. Besides until men can have babies and breastfeed for 6 months that's not always going to be the easiest option. Once I'd taken a year off anyway and put the time into getting a routine up and running , it made more sense for me to go back part-time (plus I was the lower earner by a long way).

For the record I am not SAHM but work-partime and still do 95% of the childcare.

passedgo Tue 03-Dec-13 09:51:27

Friday - I think this is precisely why the law needs to be addressed for inheritance, there should be a right to stay in the marital home, at least for a period of time.

And if you've been cleaning up your partner's teastains / or he's been changing your lightbulbs for 30 years there should also be some recognition for that.

Perhaps it should be done on a percentage basis as it is with equity in property - there should be an equity advantage over time.

It seems so wrong to me that people marry a rich man / woman, divorce two years later and get half their life's work, which then goes to their new family.

TessDurbeyfield Tue 03-Dec-13 10:07:44

The 50% split is also a bit of a myth passedgo - there's no automatic entitlement to half the assets. If there's a huge amount of money (so not 99.9% of cases) then once you've given each party enough to provide for their needs and the children, then essentially only that built up during the marriage is split. So you can't marry a multi-millionaire and then walk away with half of what s/he has built up a couple of years later.

Wessex Tue 03-Dec-13 10:12:04

"It seems so wrong to me that people marry a rich man / woman, divorce two years later and get half their life's work, which then goes to their new family"

I agree theres an argument that each case should be considered on its own merits.

I've been married with no children. I decided to leave and left the marital home (I was a joint tenant) . I didn't make a claim on the house or my husbands assets because what I wanted was freedom more than anything. I moved away and started from scratch.

Now I am not married and have children but if we were to break up my main concern would be that the children should stay in the family home. We own the house jointly and have separate bank accounts. Obviously our finances are merged and I do not earn enough to pay the mortgage on my own.

However if I were to want to end the relationship why should I automatically get half of my partner's money. As long as the children are provided for and we agree about custody that should be the main consideration.

passedgo Tue 03-Dec-13 10:22:48

So even in divorce, nothing is straightforward and you can't guarantee an equal or fair division of assets. The only support is for the children and their mother (who in this day and age, by the time divorce actually happens) will be earning her own money anyway.

I still don't get it. I think the thing that I would fear most is DP's family getting involved with the children or their care. That could happen if we were married and both died. So we are better off co-habiting in that case.

friday16 Tue 03-Dec-13 10:22:55

It seems so wrong to me that people marry a rich man / woman, divorce two years later and get half their life's work, which then goes to their new family.

Good thing that that doesn't happen, really, isn't it?

TessDurbeyfield Tue 03-Dec-13 10:26:00

On the current law, my view is that if you are committed to a person for the long term then the best thing to do is to get married regardless of whether one of you is a SAHP.

Even if you both take the view that you are going to work and not be dependent on each other, life isn't always that straightforward. Dependency isn't always chosen or predictable, life might throw it at you. You might be made redundant; be required to relocate for work and have to choose whose career to pursue; discover you have a debilitating illness that limits your ability to work; have to cease work for intensive treatment such as chemotherapy; have a child who becomes seriously ill and needs care; discover your child has special educational needs that require much or your time in appointments and education outside of school; experience mental health issues that prevent you from working fully; become a victim of domestic violence; need to care for elderly relatives.

All of those situations can make you vulnerable and can do so unpredictably (and these are all situations friends have been in) and many can also put significant strain on a relationship. Sadly most of us will experience some of the above at some point in our lives. In my view any long-term relationship will only work if it is a relationship where each commits to support each other whatever life throws at you. The great strength of marriage law is that it is largely based on that idea. It won't hold you to the commitment for life but if things go wrong it will (where financially possible) start from the assumption that you intended to be partners.

friday16 Tue 03-Dec-13 10:26:33

I think the thing that I would fear most is DP's family getting involved with the children or their care. That could happen if we were married and both died.

Being married or unmarried would make little difference, assuming your DP has parental responsibility and is named on their birth certificate. Either there are guardian appointed in your wills, which require social services approval for some decisions but are usually honoured, or there aren't, in which case social services take over but will talk to relatives at their discretion.

I can't help thinking you should seek legal advice, because you appear to have quite a few misconceptions.

Nyssalina Tue 03-Dec-13 10:47:13

I don't think there needs to be a big change in the law, the fact is that the mechanics are in place to protect people who want protection. If you have been cleaning up after somebody's mess for 30years and want some recognition in law for that, then the ready made recognition is there in the form of a marriage certificate.

If you live together for twenty years, but you have equal jobs, no kids, and you own 90% of the equity in the house, then you might not want to marry as it would disadvantage you to share assets 50/50. You would not want for there to be some middle ground where the fact that you have lived together gives the other party rights to your assets - if you wanted that, you'd get married!

Me and my DH were in this exact position, but the assets were mine not DH's. We moved in together 7 years ago into a house purchased with my money, and with only my name on the mortgage, he was essentially my tenant, although that wasn't the way I made him feel I'd like to think! After 2 years, I was changing the mortgage deal, and it was convenient at that point for me to add him on to the mortgage, so we did, and he had to be added to the deeds of the house. I still wanted to protect my £80k stake in the house, so we had a solicitor draw up a deed of trust confirming my rights to the first £80k should we split up, or if I should die, so my parents would get the assets not DP.

I very much wanted to get married, and we finally did this year. This means now that we own the property jointly, and if I die, it will pass to him, and vice versa. I love him and would hate to think of the house being sold from under his feet, so I'm glad that us marrying has confirmed those wishes, but had he not wanted to formalise the relationship, he would also not have benefitted from the financial security the arrangement has given him.

The interesting thing is that in our situation I had the financial control, but he had the emotional control. I didn't want to be the one to propose, and it was over 7 years before he proposed, so he chose when we got married basically. In most modern relationships the man has both the financial and the emotional control, leaving the woman wanting to get married because she loves him and because she doesn't want to be left in the cold financially if it all goes tits up. And a lot of those women are still waiting.

Chunderella Tue 03-Dec-13 10:53:23

Each case is considered on its own merits. There are certainly some straightforward divorces, but when the parties don't agree there's always a lot of potential for complication. I do think there are quite a few misconceptions about the nature of spousal maintenance on this thread. And would say to anyone who's wondering whether they would be better off financially and legally if they get married, take legal advice- and not just on mumsnet even when it does come from a solicitor. Assume nothing. Check. There's no one size fits all solution.

passedgo Tue 03-Dec-13 11:03:03

Friday - he does not have parental responsibility but is named on the birth certificate, DCs were born before the cut-off date. You are right I need legal advice, we both do.

There are misconceptions about marriage and about co-habiting and judging by the complexity and confusion on this thread I think the government should do something about it.

I do think that if marriage didn't exist, laws would have evolved to protect co-habiting couples (gay and straight) with children, without children, long-term and recently met. There must be recognition in all aspects of law - property, family and children, wills and estate, medical consent / next of kin.

It is all horribly disjointed at the moment.

I think one of the things preventing change is that there is rarely true evidence when one partner moves in with another - in Europe each resident has to register with the Council/town hall separately when they move.

friday16 Tue 03-Dec-13 11:29:25

I do think that if marriage didn't exist, laws would have evolved

And if wishes were horses we'd none of us walk.

There must be recognition in all aspects of law

There is. It's called "marriage". The anomaly of gays not being able to obtain the same protection has been fixed. The hand-wringing about brother and sister (etc) was mostly done in bad faith by people wanting to derail civil partnership; the main issue, which is children and post-relationship finances, won't (other than in edge cases that are going to end up in court anyway) arise in that case.

in Europe each resident has to register with the Council/town hall separately when they move.

And you think that's a good thing?

Chunderella Tue 03-Dec-13 12:26:06

Mmm it totally depends what's meant by the govt should do something. Civil partnerships for straight couples are desirable both as a matter of equality and more choice. But realistically, these will only help a minority of cohabitants ie those who are aware that cohabiting doesn't give them the same rights as marriage, and want those rights without having to get married. Its no use at all to people who don't know, or who do know but still don't want to marry anyway. And basically you have to screw one of these groups over even if you do have straight civil partnerships, which seems unlikely. Any kind of automatic provision after x years is unfair to people who want to live together but keep assets separate. And the status quo leaves some people out in the cold because of incorrect assumptions. I favour some kind of education campaign, but even that is far from perfect.

friday16 Tue 03-Dec-13 12:33:58

Civil partnerships for straight couples are desirable

They're a red herring. They've only existed for less than ten years and they only existed at all because Labour weren't willing to take on the church. In a sane world we would have passed the current Marriage Equality legislation in 2004 instead of the Civil Partnership fudge, and this discussion wouldn't be happening. Neither major party is going to revisit the legislation anyway.

Civil partnerships also create some spectacularly awkward anomalies. For example, one reason to marry is to satisfy visa and immigration regulations in other countries. A CP won't automatically do that, because those clauses are often drafted in terms of marriage, not anything else (indeed, I don't think the UK will recognise other countries' marriage-lites as marriage for immigration purposes, but I could be wrong). If someone dies overseas, and has a civil partnership in this country, what will the other country do? Who knows? And if civil partnerships are treated a marriages by other countries, does that mean that when you visit those countries the terrible things about marriage that you made such a fuss about that you demanded marriage-lite suddenly come into play?

What some people appear to want is marriage with the name changed, but in all other ways indistinguishable. I don't see why we should waste legislative time and effort on fussy eaters. And what other people want is marriage without the X, for some wide range of Xes that they can't agree on. That way lies madness.

OrlandoWoolf Tue 03-Dec-13 12:34:08

"I favour some kind of education campaign, but even that is far from perfect."

I think that is very important. I think there are too many misconceptions - especially about common law man and wife etc which can leave co-habiting couples in dire straits when problems arise.

friday16 Tue 03-Dec-13 12:38:33

I think an advertising campaign of the form "you do know you can get married for fifty quid down the registry office, don't you? We don't even mind if you're wearing jeans" would help. All too often you see people complaining that they want to get married but can't afford it, and are saving for the big day and simultaneously complaining they can't afford the deposit on a house. The whole wedding industry "your perfect day" Bridezilla thing has created a group of people who need the protection of a quick register office signing, but don't think they can afford it.

One thing that would help would be social, rather than legislative, changes which allow people to get the protection of marriage when they need it, and then throw a big party when they can afford it. The only thing that really exists for that is "renewing our vows", and it probably makes me a bad person but when I see that happening I think "which of them has had an affair, or is it both of them?"

OrlandoWoolf Tue 03-Dec-13 12:40:10

You just need one with 2 couples - 1 married, 1 unmarried and the same event happen to both of them. Then see how the law treats the unmarried couple.

passedgo Tue 03-Dec-13 12:43:52

Friday you are clearly biased in favour of marriage.

Having heterosexual civil partnerships would be much more fair. Perhaps someone could start a human rights equality/discrimination case against this.

I do think there is an argument for legal protection for those who haven't committed to each other in the marriage / CP way. Sometimes life just happens and people end up like this.

OrlandoWoolf Tue 03-Dec-13 12:46:40

It does seem unfair that a couple can be together for many years, show commitment etc - but not through marriage - but have less rights than a couple who get married after a few weeks.

And the SAHM in the first situation can be left in a tricky situation despite everything she has done for the family and the relationship.

Chunderella Tue 03-Dec-13 12:47:32

CP is helpful for British immigration purposes. It has the same standing as marriage in the Immigration Rules, EEA Regs etc. It obviously isn't recognised in lots of countries, but then a gay couple presumably wouldn't visit a number of them anyway. With regards to same sex marriages and legal unions conducted abroad, they're valid in British law if they were valid in the country they were performed in. Unless polygamous obviously. So if you as a British person or qualified EEA national had conducted a gay marriage in Norway with eg a Brazilian, you could apply to bring your same sex spouse to the UK.

As for CP itself, I know why it came in and that its not going to be extended to all couples. Neither of those things even slightly influence my view that it ought to be.

passedgo Tue 03-Dec-13 12:52:40

Yes I'm all for an education campaign - in all aspects of legal rights within marriage.

Immigration, estate and wills, children and residence, medical consent, next of kin, property - all of this needs to be seriously explained to young people so they don't end up (like me) thinking it's all about principles and what's RIGHT when it's actually about what you've signed up for on a piece of paper witnessed by two people.

friday16 Tue 03-Dec-13 12:55:21

Perhaps someone could start a human rights equality/discrimination case against this.

They would lose, for any number of reasons, even assuming there's anyone that cares enough to try. The reason why no-one is seriously proposing it is that most of the people that asked for it were homophobic members of the House of Lords who thought they'd identified a good wrecking amendment.

For a start off, they'll need to explain what, apart from the name, they think they want to be different between marriage and civil partnership.

If the differences are insignificant, the courts will just say "de minimis non curat lex" (the law does not concern itself with trifles). Calling broccoli something else might make your toddler more likely to eat it, but it's still broccoli. The courts have better things to worry about.

If the differences are substantial, then you'd be asking to make civil partnerships even less like marriage and (until the Same Sex Marriage Act is fully implemented, which is some years off), that would be discriminatory towards same-sex couples.

If you want a heterosexual civil partnership that isn't like the civil partnership on offer to same-sex couples (how? no one seems terribly clear) then that's not a discrimination case anyway.

passedgo Tue 03-Dec-13 12:56:02

I missed out sexual consent - another poorly explained point of law that gives people the idea that sexual assault is legal within marriage.

Quoteunquote Tue 03-Dec-13 12:56:59

we looked into all the alternatives in depth, the difference in finance we could live with,

One thing that came up over and over, was next of kin, I had a run of near death emergencies and some seriouse health issues, despite having DP as next of kin, in some of the emergency situations, doctors felt the need to talk to my family,

Since we have been married, we have not had that situation come up again.

friday16 Tue 03-Dec-13 13:05:03

It does seem unfair that a couple can be together for many years, show commitment etc - but not through marriage - but have less rights than a couple who get married after a few weeks.

Perhaps we could have a mechanism by which you go to a public building with your partner and sign a piece of paper to say that you're committed to each other, and that henceforth you'd like various legal protections in exchange for certain legal responsibilities towards each other. I wonder what it might be called?

ThurlHoHoHow Tue 03-Dec-13 13:07:28

Yes education is important, especially for women who believe that common-law marriage exists and that simply by cohabiting or by having children they have equal rights.

But IMO you can't have this conversation without taking into account that marriage comes with historical, emotional and moral baggage that mean many people aren't comfortable with it, or even with civil partnership.

What we need is something like the French system whereby an individual can nominate somehow as their next of kin and inheritor etc, whether it is their partner, their sibling or just their friend.

This is entirely personal, of course, but I just don't believe in having to register my emotional, sexual, romantic etc relationship with anyone. The idea baffles me. I just don't really get why consenting adults need to register with the state in this way, why we have to declare to the state that this is the person we love, why we have to involves laws and difficulties of separating and all that in our romantic relationships. That's a lot of what marriage is about, if you boil it down to its core. IMO this should be separate from saying you want to be legally and financially involved with someone.

passedgo Tue 03-Dec-13 13:13:28

Apparently registrars could marry people outside a religious context in England since 1836. Why do people always talk about marriage as being religious - and why have the church got any say in it at all? We have had civil marriages since 1836.

The more I learn the more confused I am.

passedgo Tue 03-Dec-13 13:23:05

I would have married dp years ago if it were just a commitment to love in the romantic sense. The ring would be to signify that we were faithful to each other.

But using the ring to signify that we are going to commit all our money to each other and he was going to be able to make important decisions about my life, death and health... I'm not even sure about that now, 20something years later. This is what's the problem with marriage. It is a one size fits all and when one size doesn't fit we need something else. Or someone else that does fit.

Chunderella Tue 03-Dec-13 13:25:38

Because they used to be religious ceremonies before that, and because people continued to want religious marriage ceremonies after it. Actually most religious unions have no legal validity in themselves. That's why people either sign the register during the service eg Catholics or have a separate ceremony at a registry office eg Muslims. At my Catholic wedding, legally it wasn't the priest who married us. That bit of the ceremony was for religious purposes only and was legally irrelevant. Its only the established church, C of E and of S, that can perform ceremonies with any legal validity. The reason for that is that we don't have separation of church and state.

friday16 Tue 03-Dec-13 13:30:13
Mumoftwoyoungkids Tue 03-Dec-13 13:32:26

friday I was just thinking that!

Perhaps, for a few weeks before the signing there should be a list of people intending to sign - just to make sure there are no conflicts of interest.

(Off to gym club in a minute or would be happy to play "what would be involved in a perfect commitment contract" with you all afternoon!)

passedgo Tue 03-Dec-13 13:34:05

But the state can legally register marriages in a registry office with no religion involved at all - since 1836. Why did the government even consult with the Church at all on same sex marriage? Why not just decide how they wanted state marriages to be and let the church stay in their dark retrospective inward-looking place and miss out on all the fun?

Sorry if I'm going off-piste again. I really should get on with my work. I don't like being confused.

SatinSandals Tue 03-Dec-13 13:37:01

His attitude is that men in what he calls "traditional set-ups" go out to work and earn money which "enables" their partners to do more of the childcare. It sounded like he thinks men are doing women a big favour and that is not an attitude I want to be married to

I wouldn't want to be just living with someone with that attitude, unless I was working full time and earning at least as much as him.

passedgo Tue 03-Dec-13 13:37:42

I bet the Queen was behind it. Her and her pomp and circumstance and confused religious inheritance. None of it makes sense but if the Queen was involved it would.

friday16 Tue 03-Dec-13 13:40:06

Why did the government even consult with the Church at all on same sex marriage?

Because the issue at hand was whether the CofE would be forced to conduct same-sex marriages on its premises, with its ministers officiating. That doesn't arise for Catholics or Jews or whatever, because they are private members clubs. But everyone historically had the right to be married in their parish church, and the vicar could not refuse you provided the marriage was lawful. A straightforward same-sex marriage provision would not override that.

There was a similar provision in the Matrimonial Causes Act of whenever, which finally legitimised remarriage. Churches weren't forced to carry them out, even though register offices would. That seems a reasonable compromise, under the circumstances. Disestablishment seems a somewhat extreme measure.

The CofE also had views as a campaigning body on social issues, and has a lot of members. It is entirely reasonable that government consult with large, noisy stakeholders on issues of social policy, just as ChildLine get consulted on child abuse and the Anglers' Association on the issuance of fishing permits. The CofE got nothing it asked for, other than the (reasonable) right to not conduct ceremonies on its premises.

Nyssalina Tue 03-Dec-13 13:52:20

I don't really understand where the wave of negativity towards traditional marriage has come from? The thing is, if the reason that you don't feel you should have to get married in order to get the protection and recognition within law that it provides is just because you 'don't believe in having to register your emotional... relationship with anyone', then essentially you're just cutting off your nose to spite your face.
You wouldn't choose to not register your child's birth because you didn't feel it was anyone else's business that you'd procreated would you?

ThurlHoHoHow Tue 03-Dec-13 14:12:36

No, nyssalina, it's not cutting off your nose to spite your face, and I'm not quite sure what you mean by that. It's just saying there are some thing some people (in this case me) feel are right to register with the state, and some things that aren't. So births or deaths make sense to register, the state needs to know how many people are born or die. Registering who you want to share your assets with or have NoK rights for you - so wills, trusts, powers of attorney etc - makes sense. But to me, I don't think it is any business of the state who I am in love with and chose to live with, not in the sense of saying "I legally commit to being with this one person."

But it's also not a wave of negativity towards traditional marriage. I am very happy when people I know chose to get married. I think it's a great excuse for a lovely party/celebration of a couple being together. I just don't feel it is for me.

Nyssalina Tue 03-Dec-13 14:35:22

What I mean is, if you think it makes sense to register to share your assets and be legally tied to another individual etc, then at the moment to do that without being married involves all sorts of solicitors fees and messing about, and you still don't qualify for many benefits that are currently only available to married couples (like inheritance tax threshold being transferable).
If the only reason you wouldn't just have a civil ceremony to get the same benefits, is because you feel it's no one else's business who you're in love with, then I guess it just seems a bit petty. It doesn't affect anyone else except you, your partner, and your children, and you are the only people who will benefit from it, so why not?
That's what to cut off ones nose to spite one's face means, it's a warning against acting out of pique rather than in your own best interests.
Obviously it's a simplification mind you, there's two parties involved in any decision, and you and your partners own circumstances may make things more complicated, but I do think what this thread has shown is that when it comes to getting the benefits associated with marriage, nothing beats just getting married.

friday16 Tue 03-Dec-13 14:38:22

But to me, I don't think it is any business of the state who I am in love with and chose to live with, not in the sense of saying "I legally commit to being with this one person."

But marriage isn't that, in any useful sense. There's nothing stopping married couples living apart, and many do. There's nothing stopping married couples being polyamorous so long as both consent. There's nothing stopping married couples from being celibate. The provisions for divorce aren't enacted by the state, they're enacted by the other party, so as long as both of you are happy, the details of your relationship are none of anyone else's business, particularly the state. The issue of non-consummation as a grounds for annulment (a) only arises in historical novels and (b) again, requires one party who's not happy about it to raise it as a challenge; the state doesn't come into your bedroom to check.

What marriage does is allow you to get an LPoA-lite, a will (in that intestacy mostly does "the right thing" for married couples), a bunch of tax exemptions and some provision for sorting the mess out if it goes wrong, all for fifty quid (it might be a hundred: it's certainly a fraction of the cost of obtaining and registering an LPoA). If you want to do them individually, tweaking as you go, fine. But for most people, the package deal is cheaper, easier and faster.

passedgo Tue 03-Dec-13 15:04:46

So does that mean people can be married, but not actually be in a relationship - live apart, have polyamorous rls, but children together and marriage for legal purposes (inheritance, property etc) remains intact?


And thank you Friday for being so patient with me!

ThurlHoHoHow Tue 03-Dec-13 15:16:02

I do know one polyamorous trio where two of them are married - they married before meeting the 3rd person, who now lives with them.

They all seem very happy but I can't help but wonder what the long-term implications are for the woman who isn't married. Emotionally, perhaps, more than financially.

Nessalina Tue 03-Dec-13 15:35:48

Wow, I can't imagine how that can possibly work to all three people's satisfaction, but I guess it must do for it to continue... I'd imagine paranoia must be rife, but I'd suppose that they'd all have to be very emotionally mature and able to deal with it...
For that arrangement should they get to the point where the couple wants to provide legal protection for the other woman, I guess they have no choice but to do it the long way round with a solicitor!!

friday16 Tue 03-Dec-13 15:36:19

So does that mean people can be married, but not actually be in a relationship - live apart, have polyamorous rls, but children together and marriage for legal purposes (inheritance, property etc) remains intact?

Of course. Such as, for example, the Prince of Wales when he was married to Diana Spencer. What makes you think that they couldn't?

The state does not enforce the terms of marriage. If both parties decide that they are happy with their marriage, they are married (subject to laws on bigamy, incest and so on). Divorce only arises when one party wants out of the arrangement, and as we aren't living in 1935 any more, that's usually on the basis of just dissolving the marriage because they agree to do so (the days of private detectives following people to seedy hotels to prove adultery are all rather gone, although they do occasionally happen).

This is why I don't understand the animus towards marriage. The state will recognise a relationship, and give you certain rights. The bundle you get for your fifty quid is for most people the right set. But you can rescind those rights if you don't like them: a will overrides intestacy provision so you can cut your spouse out of your inheritance (subject to some fairly narrowly drawn exceptions), an LPoA overrides next of kin, etc. So if you want to be married but want your sister rather than your husband to speak for you medically, you can do that. You don't have to live with them, share a bank account with them or even fuck them if you don't want to. It's just a way to recognise a relationship that conveys certain powers, that's all.

cherryademerrymaid Tue 03-Dec-13 15:43:47

Friday - could you tell me what tax exemptions there are with marriage? For some reason I thought those had gone out the window (except for Cameron's recent mumblings about a tax break for married couples)

friday16 Tue 03-Dec-13 15:56:32

Friday - could you tell me what tax exemptions there are with marriage?

Inheritance tax. Transfers between spouses are exempt in their entirety at the time of death, and there's then a joint allowance of 650k when the second dies.

Transfers between unmarried partners attract an immediate IHT liability on the deceased's assets over 325k at the point of death (including, if it's held as tenants in common, their half of the house), and then when the second partner dies there is only a 325k exemption on their assets, which will include their late partner's assets.

Yes, there are all sorts of caveats, ways around it, etc, etc. But they're a lot more complex, and rarely as effective.

cherryademerrymaid Tue 03-Dec-13 16:08:01

OK thanks

FeisMom Tue 03-Dec-13 16:10:50

So does that mean people can be married, but not actually be in a relationship - live apart, have polyamorous rls, but children together and marriage for legal purposes (inheritance, property etc) remains intact?

Also a pertinent point where one party in a relationship has been married before. A friend was horrified to discover that although she and her DCs had been living with her DP for several years, shared a house (but wasn't named on the mortgage or deeds) that as her DP had no will, in the event of his death, his wife from who he was separated but hadn't got round to divorcing would technically inherit everything, could turf her out of the home she lived in, refuse her access to her DP on his deathbed, make DNR / turn off life support decisions.

passedgo Tue 03-Dec-13 16:35:07

Thanks Friday16 you have been hugely informative.


friday16 Tue 03-Dec-13 18:00:29

that as her DP had no will, in the event of his death, his wife from who he was separated but hadn't got round to divorcing would technically inherit everything,

Not "would technically", "would". The order goes spouse/civil partner, children, grandchildren (etc), parents, siblings, half-siblings, grandparents, aunts/uncles, half-aunts/uncles, the Crown. There's provision for creditors to apply to administer the estate if no-one else wants to, and in any event creditors are entitled to be paid before the estate is distributed, but an unmarried partner doesn't get a look-in either as beneficiary or as administrator. The partner couldn't under any realistic circumstances obtain letters of administration, so would have no room to manoeuvre. And the person who does inherit can be fairly aggressive about moving someone out of the house; there are protections, but they're not very good ones.

Yes, the ex-wife could refuse to accept the legacy and use a deed of variation to give the money to the new partner (if they were nice). But if they were claiming benefits (or residential care), or were likely to need to do so in the immediate future, it would count as deprivation of assets and their benefits would be assessed as though they had the asset.

MsRinky Tue 03-Dec-13 18:04:10

You can transfer assets between married people. For example, my husband got shares from his company, and because we are married he could transfer half to me, meaning that when we sold them, we could benefit from two lots of capital gains tax allowance, ie. no tax to pay on the profit. This allowance is currently £10600 each a year, so not small change if you do have this kind of asset.

JimmyCorkhill Tue 03-Dec-13 19:18:39

If you want those protections, put on your jeans, nip to the register office, sign the paperwork and leave. It'll cost fifty quid, and you don't need to tell anyone.
I don't mean to be picky but it doesn't cost £50 anymore grin. Not in our local register office anyway. It's £35 each to file the paperwork then the cheapest room is £49. So £119.

LittleQuark Wed 04-Dec-13 01:34:42

OrlandoWoolf comment stood out to me:

You just need one with 2 couples - 1 married, 1 unmarried and the same event happen to both of them. Then see how the law treats the unmarried couple.

Is anyone willing to spin off a quick basic list of exactly that, for example if one dies, how that affects whether married or unmarried?

AuntieStella Wed 04-Dec-13 06:51:49

married: receive state bereavement benefits; no IHT payable; no doubt about who arranges burial etc (especially if death overseas); if no will, then survivor receives set proportion of estate.

unmarried: no entitlement to any bereavement benefits; IHT payable; if no will, no entailment to anything under intestacy; may not be able to make any funeral arrangements at all; not all pensions pay out to non-martial surviving partners.

riksti Wed 04-Dec-13 07:09:07

friday16 I'm not sure if anyone's corrected you on this but further up on the thread you said no IHT on joint tenancy. That's not true! Joint tenancy between unmarried partners triggers inheritance tax the same way as tenancy in common. Proof here (example 2 under When a beneficiary has to pay inheritance tax)

Chunderella Wed 04-Dec-13 08:02:34

From an immigration perspective: an EEA national working in the UK wants to apply to bring their non-EEA spouse with them. This is an easy application, the only proof of their relationship I need is the marriage certificate. It won't take me as long to prepare, so it will be cheaper, and may be dealt with more quickly by the Home Office. Additionally, the right to have a spouse there is absolute.

The same situation with an unmarried couple- the right is not absolute. In practice it will normally be allowed if they can prove they are in a durable relationship, which the Home Office accept if they can be living together for 2 years or more. In order to prove this, they'll need documents- council tax bills or equivalent and letters from official sources addressed to them at the same address. If they can provide these and have lived together for 2 years, it's fairly straightforward but will still take me longer to advise on and prepare than a married application- so I charge more. If cohabiting for less than 2 years, it becomes more complex as I will have to effectively rebut the presumption that it isn't yet a durable relationship. Which can be done, I've succeeded many times, but again it takes more time to prepare the application and I might have to go into things like children, engagement, property together etc. I will have to argue. Which again takes me more time, which client pays for. It will also probably take the Home Office a bit longer to deal with this application as it will be more complex and they don't cope very well when they have to think.

cherryademerrymaid Wed 04-Dec-13 09:48:32

What is an LPoA? And can anyone point me to a website where all this handy info is in one place?

ThurlHoHoHow Wed 04-Dec-13 10:03:49

Cherry, it's a Lasting Power of Attorney - see

From Stella's list, a lot of it can be sorted. PoA gives you a lot of rights especially as Next of Kin and what happens if your partner is seriously ill or incapacitated. Having no will when you're unmarried would probably be a highly stupid thing and that one I'd say you bring on yourself. Inheritance tax has a threshold of around £350,000, so that probably discounts a lot of couples. Most pensions will now pay out to a named beneficiary.

Widow's benefit, yes, that's a big one at the moment.

However I believe there is growing pressure to sort this out and so the situation is unlikely to stay this way for the next 50 years.

cherryademerrymaid Wed 04-Dec-13 10:12:13

Right, that's all I needed to know. Thank you very much!

cherry switches screens to local registry office

friday16 Wed 04-Dec-13 11:50:12


Thanks, I didn't know that. Thank you for the correct. It's a case of the Inland Revenue getting you coming or going! So unmarried couples who own houses worth more than £650k have no option but to either plan to pay IHT on the first death or get married.

passedgo Wed 04-Dec-13 11:53:33

I'm with cherry now. There are some fantastic licensed venues...

cherryademerrymaid Wed 04-Dec-13 11:59:38

Hell woman, I haven't got time for that!!! Would love to go searching for somewhere nice but a quick trip downtown will have to suffice - maybe later on....

Happy hunting! fsmile

passedgo Wed 04-Dec-13 12:14:24

You're right of course Cherry, neither have I got time for it. In fact it's the organising thing that has put me off in the past - a whole big party with relatives from all over the world that will get huffty if you don't invite them at £100 a head. Being the only girl means the pressure has always been on to create that perfect day. And when the relationship is far from perfect what's the point of the perfect wedding? I just keep imagining everyone's face when they find out we got married but didn't tell them or have a big do.

Might be the local RO on a rainy afternoon after all.

IrnBruTheNoo Wed 04-Dec-13 12:16:58

I got married at the register office, and it was done and dusted within 20 minutes.

friday16 Wed 04-Dec-13 12:23:25

I just keep imagining everyone's face when they find out we got married but didn't tell them or have a big do.

But you're a grown up, right?

IrnBruTheNoo Wed 04-Dec-13 12:27:07

It's your business what you do, no one else's.

No one batted an eyelid, we just said it matter-of-fact that we were getting married in a register office. We were paying for it at the end of the day, no one else!!

IrnBruTheNoo Wed 04-Dec-13 12:28:08

Big do's are over rated anyway, especially in this financial climate. Seems such a waste of money even if you are able to afford an extravagant wedding.

cherryademerrymaid Wed 04-Dec-13 12:30:54

If you'd like a bit of a do at some point you can always have one, cant you....renew vows and all that...

I'm pretty certain it's not going to go down well over here either, but much rather that than OH have something happen on him on the way to work and me and the kids end up in a mess and if the family can appreciate that, well, tough!

FeisMom Wed 04-Dec-13 12:34:17

You don't have to tell anyone if you don't want to, just do it quietly in your lunch hour, its cheaper and quicker than a solicitors appointment.

Then in a few years if / when you have the time / inclination, have a big celebration and renew your vows.

passedgo Wed 04-Dec-13 12:37:04

And the children, they need to know and one of them in particular loves the docusoaps, 'gypsy wedding' 'bridezilla' etc, there will be endless pressure.

Perhaps we'll get an extra large takeaway, or even a meal in a proper restaurant.

Chunderella Wed 04-Dec-13 12:46:25

Thurl IHT has a threshold of 325k per person, but any unused can be passed to the surviving spouse so it is effectively 650k per married couple. Obviously there are lots of people who aren't at all affected by this. Many have assets below the threshold, or above the joint threshold, or have enough ready cash to pay IHT without having to sell the marital home. The people who are affected by it are those who own a home worth 326k-650k and who don't have any/sufficient other assets to pay IHT without selling the home. So that would be an increasingly high percentage of the south east, basically. It's quite common for an older couple who never had much money but who happened to buy in the right place at the right time to have perhaps a 500k house, but not much else, thanks to the wonders of the property boom. You may have heard about asset rich, cash poor pensioners? Fortunately they tend to be married, but it'll be a different story in a couple of decades.

But yes, the IHT thing is no reason to get married if it doesn't affect you. It's just a good idea to keep an eye on the threshold and one's own net worth in that scenario, particularly house value. Even so there are millions to whom it's totally irrelevant.

idlevice Wed 04-Dec-13 13:07:47

This is long overdue for me but I think I should "do the deed" at a registry office to save the faff with a solicitor. It really sticks in my craw to do it but I will if it's the most practicable option. For those of you that have done it, do you have to say anything like vows or can you just sign a piece of paper? & can they do it totally fuss-free, like no congratulations, enforced joviality, etc

IrnBruTheNoo Wed 04-Dec-13 13:21:36

MIL wanted to say a few readings, but other than that, we said the generic vows they give out to you, and that was it. Very quick ceremony. My own parents got married at the register office too. It's not that bad!

IrnBruTheNoo Wed 04-Dec-13 13:22:29

The registrar just walked out after saying her bit, said good luck congrats, something along those lines, and that was it all over with.

FeisMom Wed 04-Dec-13 13:53:09

To add to chunderella's point about IHT, whilst £325k seems a lot, it could affect your "average" family.

Average UK house price is £242k,
add in an £8k car,
death in service benefit (assuming you are entitled to it as many are not if unmarried) of 4 x average salary £27k = £108k

and you're well into paying IHT

FeisMom Wed 04-Dec-13 14:08:06

idlevice - we just read out the pre-printed words, signed on the dotted line, the registrar said "congratulations" and that was it, off we went.

friday16 Wed 04-Dec-13 14:30:58

Death in service benefit is rarely part of the taxable estate though, is it? It's paid directly to the beneficiary where possible for precisely this reason, and only goes into the estate if no nomination form has been signed and the scheme does not have a "default" nomination.

And your scenario would only arise if the house was in the sole name of the deceased, with the whole value forming part of their estate. Even so, in the scenario you suggest the IHT liability would be 13 grand, which would be annoying but (given there was a 108k cash payment on the table) would not result in the loss of the house.

Ok, quick question. Am sahm but property and savings are all mine, all in my name, separate bank accounts etc, but have dc, born after 2003 with dp's name on birth certificate, so he has parental responsibility.

It is in my interest to not marry isn't it? That way my dc inherit the property rather than dp, I assume that I need to have someone named as trustee until dc reaches 18?

friday16 Wed 04-Dec-13 14:40:40

It is in my interest to not marry isn't it? That way my dc inherit the property rather than dp

If you write a will leaving it all to the children, then that makes it pretty much irrelevant as to whether you're married. And you need to write a will appointing guardians and trustees anyway.

However, if this really what you want? How old are your children? Are you saying that if you died, you'd want your assets to go in trust to your children, and their father to have none of it? Where and with whom would they live, and using what money?

Our wills appoint my brother as guardian, and give him very wide discretion to spend the assets. If he took my children in, he'd need a larger house. If he took my children in, I'd hope that they and his children would be brought up as quasi-siblings, so would have similar amounts of money for holidays and education: that might involve "my" money supporting "his" children for parity.

The scenario of both of us dying and triggering trust/guardian issues is similar to yours if just you die, and I'm not sure what you envisage happening under intestacy. My guess is that the money would be with the court of protection, the children would be reliant on your partner's income to get them to 18/21 but they'd be rich then. That strikes me as a very bad outcome.

IrnBruTheNoo Wed 04-Dec-13 16:13:09

"£325k seems a lot"

Haha, our property is nowhere near this amount!

Ok, so children are tiny, under 2. DP is tbh rubbish with money, I can see the house being sold/remortgaged for ridiculous reasons and that there would be nothing to pass on.

If we remain unmarried, my understanding is that as my next of kin, it passes to my children. I am more than happy for dp to stay in the house with them grin and that money from insurance & savings is to be used for them all but not that he has financial control of the house, it's the biggest asset I have for the dc and something that I worked bloody hard for. It's worth well below inheritance tax thresholds (160k, so noone's going to be loaded smile).

Aside from the death side of it, I also assume that were we to marry that he would then have spousal rights to the house under those terms, so again, my asset would be under threat, or would it remain mine because of the dc's?

It's hateful all the emotions that go into money & assets. No wonder so many people die without having sorted anything out. And i'm just talking about from the point of view of upsetting people.

Sorry, that was a reply to friday16 thanks for taking the time to reply smile

Chunderella Wed 04-Dec-13 17:03:19

325k seems a huge amount to me, but I live in the north and you can get good sized houses even in pretty nice areas of town for 250-300k. In London it wouldn't go very far.

Onedog if your main priority is for your estate to go to your children, yes you're better off remaining unmarried. You could allow DP to have a lifetime interest in the property, which means he gets to live there until he dies but doesn't own it. Sort out who's responsible for the upkeep and maintenance if you do this, though. Anyway if this is what you want, see a solicitor and get a good will drawn up.

friday16 Wed 04-Dec-13 17:10:56

I can see the house being sold/remortgaged for ridiculous reasons and that there would be nothing to pass on.

Support that after you die, your husband's job relocates? Suppose that after you die, one of your children falls ill and it's necessary to buy an adapted bungalow? Suppose that after you die, your partner kindly offers to merge households with your mother so that the children can be raised better by both families, but can't?

I am more than happy for dp to stay in the house with them

Without a will, that isn't certain. It depends on what the trustees (if you are intestate, the Court of Protection) decide is in the best financial interests of the children once they reach eighteen. They are not responsible for ensuring that the children's homelife is beneficial, just that the investment makes the best return.

and that money from insurance & savings is to be used for them

Without a will, it can't be: it'll be in trust, and unless that trust has an explicit provision for its use for their education and maintenance, the money's tied up until they're 18. So if your partner wanted to, for example, be a SAHF for your children, he can't. If your partner lost his job, they can all live on benefits while looking at the money via the medium of bank statements. I doubt that's what you'd want.

I also assume that were we to marry that he would then have spousal rights to the house

Consult a solicitor. It's not as simple as that.

If you don't have a will, however, all your assets will be unavailable for any purpose for your children (education, ponies, cancer treatment) until they are eighteen. I don't see how that's a good thing.

amicissimma Wed 04-Dec-13 17:16:59

I find it so sad that there are people who spend their lives with another person, who have children with that person but don't want that person to benefit from the fruits of their labour/assets, either in life or death.

Not my idea of a loving relationship - the sort I want to raise my DCs in.

friday16 Wed 04-Dec-13 17:18:15

Chunders makes a good point about maintenance.

Suppose you die tomorrow. Your partner decides to move to live with his parents/sister/whatever so that there is more childcare and support available for his children. Your children hold your house in trust. After sixteen years, they can sell it. But in the meantime, who pays the (not inconsiderable) council tax, insurance and maintenance bills? He'd be a mug to do it out of his income, probably couldn't afford to, and may not be able to (can you get buildings insurance on someone else's property?)

I've not dealt with the court of protection in this guise. But my father did have to get a full-on court of protection arrangement for his mother-in-law, because she became incapable of administering her own affairs without an EPoA (as it was in those days) having been set up. It was a complete nightmare, and also extremely expensive, with very complex accounting requirements As things stand, (chunderella may know the details) your children's assets after your death would be administered by the court of protection. That would be expensive, inflexible and possibly have perverse outcomes. Get a will, at least, to sort this out.

EvilRingahBitch Wed 04-Dec-13 17:29:25

Whilst I see your point of view ammicissima, where one party has brought very substantial family assets to the marriage and dies young, you do occasionally end up with bona fide "Cinderella" situations where the dead mother's assets are passed to the father, who then remarries and dies, leaving everything to the second wife - who then leaves everything to her children, cutting the child of the first marriage out completely. Rare but by no means unheard of.

Chunderella Wed 04-Dec-13 17:42:35

Afraid I don't know friday I've never done any court of protection work at all. I'm a solicitor but I now only do immigration- did family and wills whilst training but that was over 3 years ago. So I know a fair amount but am not current.

Amicissimma that's a bit harsh. I can envisage any number of scenarios where I might love someone as much as it is possible for any human being to love another, but still not want them to get assets before DC did. Gambling problem, for example, or anything that could lead to a lot of money being wasted. Having been left assets already by parents on the understanding that they'd be passed down to my children- heirloom jewellery perhaps (I should be so lucky). DH and I are more of a pool everything type couple, but then neither of us had any children or assets before getting married.

IrnBruTheNoo Wed 04-Dec-13 19:31:08

Unfortunately, you have to think with your head not your heart when it comes to Wills, and working out the future in the long term once children come along.

I love DH, but I also want us to both we very aware of what will happen if one passes away before the other and what we'd be entitled to. You have to remain transparent as a couple.

Nessalina Wed 04-Dec-13 23:22:05

This thread is properly fascinating! Friday & Chunderella - excellent & useful know-how, thanks ladies grin

Chunderella Thu 05-Dec-13 09:24:21

No problem. I've just spent enough time working in the law, some of it in the advice sector, to have a bee in my bonnet about people knowing their legal position! There are some incredibly worrying misconceptions out there.

scottishmummy Thu 05-Dec-13 20:57:00

If you want all the legal protection of marriage,get married.otherwise see solicitor
Become fully informed of all the facts,implication of being unmarried,how affects you
Marriage isn't desired by everyone,but I'd say if you're really wanting to be married have that marriage conversation v early on.and if one partner isn't for marrying at least you'll be clear.

passedgo Fri 06-Dec-13 13:40:03

So I made the suggestion on Wed evening. Described it as 'cheaper than paying solicitors to do the Wills, contracts etc' so as not to frighten him. Our RL is WAY past the romance stage and that would seem odd to me and to him. He completely ignored what I said (often does this when something serious needs to be decided).

We are going through mortgage and finance stuff at the moment so perhaps a chat with a solicitor will need to be arranged.

passedgo Fri 06-Dec-13 13:45:28

Chunderella on a political note I think it is absurd that people have such little knowledge about law and rights (myself included). I know a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, but knowledge is also power.

The media contorts any government messages including things like budget statements, which can be quite useful for knowing how to plan your life - everything is distilled to the most controversial point and we are left still clueless.

WaitingForPeterWimsey Fri 06-Dec-13 13:59:20

Cinderella scenario happened to my aunt. She and her late brother were left nothing as her DF left it to his dw (her sm). The sm left it all to her children only wink

WaitingForPeterWimsey Fri 06-Dec-13 14:00:06

Sorry that was meant to be a shock not an wink

passedgo Fri 06-Dec-13 14:17:18

But Waiting that can happen anyway because if you put that in your Will it over-rides the marriage default position.

Eg my parents are married and are splitting all their cash between GCs and DB and me equally. hmm

friday16 Fri 06-Dec-13 17:21:05

But Waiting that can happen anyway because if you put that in your Will it over-rides the marriage default position.

Not quite. You could leave your assets in trust for your children, with provision to use the money for their benefit in the meantime, but with the residue firmly assigned to them.

I asked my solicitor about doing this the last time I re-drew my will, and his response was that it would set will-writing back a hundred years, and it was such trusts that kept litigation partners in foreign holidays. I decided in the end to trust the beneficiaries of my will to do the right thing.

The risk is that you leave your assets to your spouse, who remarries, dies leaving everything to their spouse, and the spouse (your children's step-parent) cuts your children out of their will. If I were remarrying as a widow/er I would definitely make a will leaving my late spouse's assets in trust to my children, and I believe that is standard practice. But to make a will in my first marriage that prevents my spouse from having free access to them were I to die, on the off-chance that they remarry and are badly advised about their will in their second marriage? It does seem rather untrusting of them.

But then I think that people who rely on intestacy rules need their heads examining. Anyone with children and assets who does not have a professionally written will is being negligent, I think.

passedgo Fri 06-Dec-13 18:50:30

So marriage only enhances your dcs security if you and your husband were to die intestate and die at the same time. If one dies first, the other then re-marries, your dc's step-parent can do what they want with your money and bypass your children.

This is absurd more complicated than I thought.

friday16 Fri 06-Dec-13 19:35:08

If one dies first, the other then re-marries, your dc's step-parent can do what they want with your money and bypass your children.

Not necessarily.

If you die intestate, your widow/er receives the first 250k plus a lifetime interest in the rest. In that sense, intestacy may more favourable to children than simple mirror wills.

But (and proper solicitors can advise your particular circumstances, that's what you pay them for) the advice I received was that trusts, whether created through intestacy or in your will, sound better than they are, and unless you have reason to believe that your partner will behave unreasonably, you are better off leaving it to their discretion.

I can't help thinking that a lot of these discussions are of more interest if your problem is the division of your family farm or your manor house, not the effects of the typical UK citizen. To lose both your parents, with an intervening re-marriage, in the midst of which the second parent to die has had their head turned by a golddigger such that they do not write an effective will, all of which happens while you are young, would be very unusual. Having assets tied up in trust for your children while you yourself eke out a destitute old age (cf. the raising of the pension age again) seem in general terms a bad idea.

passedgo Sat 07-Dec-13 10:20:25

I agree that Trusts are generally a waste of time and tend to be recommended by accountants rather than solicitors as they theoretically bypass inheritance tax.

So the general rule is that spouse gets 250k of your estate (excluding your own potential inheritance, which continues down the bloodline) and the rest goes to children, held in trust for them until 18? That sounds fair to me unless of course you were married to Charles Saatchi.

friday16 Sat 07-Dec-13 11:09:21

So the general rule is that spouse gets 250k of your estate

It's not a "general rule". It's intestacy. Dying in intestacy is not, in general terms, a good way to protect your children's interests. Aside from anything else, you might be very unhappy at who ends up with the letters of administration, is appointed guardian, and acts as trustees.

If you like the look of its provisions, make a will with the same terms, but appoint the above.

held in trust for them until 18

Sounds great, yes? Of course, if your son turns out to have special needs, or your daughter is a potential Olympic sportsman, the money might be quite handy when they're fourteen. Tough, eh?

EvilRingahBitch Sat 07-Dec-13 11:37:45

Intestacy is also much more administratively difficult. It's a shitty thing to inflict on a bereaved partner.

And in the unlikely event that you and your spouse both die in the same event, eg a car or plane crash, your estate has to go through two lots of probate before going on to the ultimate recipient (before the recent reform, this would mean paying unneccessary IHT as well, but now that's not a factor for married couples). A simple survivorship clause will fix that.

passedgo Sat 07-Dec-13 18:51:08

I'm getting a headache now. So marriage doesn't really cover probate effectively - no advantage unless intestate which is a bad idea even if married.

And if property is in both names there should be a protection if separation occurs but if push came to shove even an unmarried main carer could apply to court to stay in the home until children are 18?

So as long as Wills are drawn up to cover everything, all we unmarrieds lose out on is some sideways tax allowance-shifting and widow's pension and maintenance on separation?

riksti Sat 07-Dec-13 18:55:28

passedgo And inheritance tax reliefs if the estate of the deceased partner is more than his/her available nil rate band, which means you'll be paying inheritance tax unnecessarily.

Chunderella Sat 07-Dec-13 19:23:05

Yes an unmarried main carer could apply to remain in the home until the children are 18. It is a potentially complex and expensive process, which may or may not succeed.

If you want total control over what happens to your assets after you die, with no possibility of challenge from anyone you don't want to benefit, but the flexibility to allow whoever looks after DC to make positive decisions on their behalf and yet not do anything you wouldn't want with the money (don't we all) then no, marriage isn't going to do that for you. Nor is unmarried cohabitation. You just pays your money, either to the registry office or a solicitor, and takes your choice. If there are no immigration issues and your partner is unlikely to be tried for many criminal offences, it comes down to the finances. And once widows pension goes, if there's no likelihood of a spousal maintenance situation or IHT, perhaps marriage won't offer much that you can't get from a good will and NOK. You just have to do your research and use your sense. Obviously this situation benefits some people and screws over others, but it is as it is.

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