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Plans to make co-habiters in line with married couples when it comes to wills

(44 Posts)
Fabster Sat 07-Nov-09 07:18:53


IMO this is wrong.

If you want the same rights as people who are married, get married.

I feel it under minds the significance of marriage.

arolf Sat 07-Nov-09 07:25:55

i tend to agree with you - undermines marriage.
however, I have been nagging suggesting to DP that either we marry or write wills for 6 months now, especially since DS arrived, so for us this would be a good thing until he wakes his bloody ideas up capitulates

ceres Sat 07-Nov-09 08:05:46

how does it undermine marriage? people who want to get married will still have the option of getting married.

many people are in committed, long term relationships and don't want to get married for a variety of reasons. why should they not have their relationships recognized?

if you are in a long term live-in relationship with somebody and don't want them to inherit anything should you die then i would really question why you are in that relationship.

nighbynight Sat 07-Nov-09 08:08:46

But there is already an arrangement for looking after wills - it's called marriage.

nighbynight Sat 07-Nov-09 08:11:17

If I'm cohabiting, then I discover that the person is violent (for example), so I dont want them to inherit from me any more, but we've got a joint mortgage, and neither can afford to move out...who is to say when our cohabiting relationship ends, and the automatic wills thing is not valid any more?

you will have to have some official recognition of the end of the relationship, like divorce. It all sounds a bit familiar.
This arrangement already exists (marriage), you can opt in or out as you please...I dont see why the law needs changing.

nighbynight Sat 07-Nov-09 08:12:41

Violent not a good example, say I discover he is cheating, but we stay living in the same house.

JackBauer Sat 07-Nov-09 08:15:10

I think this is wrong, if you don't want to get married, then make sure you have a will.
The only reason it woudl have been a good idea is to protect people who can't get married in this country but now you can have a civil partnership it is unnecessary.

ceres Sat 07-Nov-09 08:32:56

as far as i am aware if you have a joint mortgage and one of you dies then the other automatically gets the house, regardless of whether you are married or not. is this not the case?

obviously if a couple split up and remained living in the same house then there would need to be proof that the relationship had ended - but i imagine this would be much easier than the process of divorce. probably as simple as an affadavit.

i still don't see why people should have marriage imposed on them just to gain the protection of the law should one of them die without leaving a will.

i am married - because we both wanted to get married. although i did leave out all the bits that make me itch (being given away, being called mrs and changing my name). but i do understand why some people do not want to get married - in fact i know several couples who have been together for years and years and have no intention of getting married.

wonder if they will aoutomatically become next of kin too.

HerBoomWhizzBangitude Sat 07-Nov-09 08:33:06

I think it undermines the right to live together on a casual basis.

We live in a world like it or not, where people move in together in their twenties because it becomes inconvenient and expensive to live apart. Those people don't always intend to get married and some people might live with 2 or 3 people (or more) before they commit to someone with whom they want to have children. The idea that some random lover who happens to live with you because it's convenient, can inherit your estate without you having actually stipulated that in a will, is outrageous. At what stage does someone have that right? After you've shagged him once in your joint home? After he's lived there five years? Four weeks? 3 days? It's absurd.

paisleyleaf Sat 07-Nov-09 08:37:17

I agree that it 'undermines the right to live together on a casual basis.'

ceres Sat 07-Nov-09 08:39:55

The Commission's proposals would allow any couple that have been together for five years, or who have children, to inherit from the other partner just as they would had they been married.

If the couple have been together for two years, but less than five, the surviving partner would inherit half the amount they would otherwise have been entitled to.

the above is copied and pasted from the bbc link - hardly likely to affect casual relationships.

edam Sat 07-Nov-09 08:43:56

The news story says it's two to five years - two years would get you half what a spouse would get or five years exactly what a spouse would get. Or if you had children.

I am uncomfortable about it on behalf of people who don't realise by living together they are giving their partner these rights - if loads of people don't realise they don't have the same rights now, equally loads of people won't realise they are granting the new rights once they are in place.

Maybe they should start with a publicity campaign so people who live together as a stable couple realise they need to make wills? And registrars should offer information about this when unmarried couples register births?

The whole point of marriage is that it is legal, state recognition of your relationship. If you choose not to get married and don't make a will, it suggests you have chosen to opt out of that legal commitment.

Btw, if you are unmarried and own your house together, I think inheritance depends upon whether you are tenants in common or joint tenants (not sure of the wording). Something your solicitor should explain to you when you buy. But that is also an issue for married couples, I gather.

And I have no idea which we are, tbh, despite being married. Although I do remember the solicitor taking us through this when we were unmarried and bought our first flat, largely because dh stuck in a few grand he had inherited as the deposit and his Dad was keen to protect that inheritance. Which seemed fair enough to me if a little insulting.

edam Sat 07-Nov-09 08:46:34

What would happen to dependents - children - if a couple split up and the parents went on to live with new partners? Looks from this as if the children would be disinherited, which can't be right, surely?

God forbid but if anything happened to me and then dh died later after moving in with a new partner, I wouldn't want that person swiping ds's inheritance - the house which dh and I have invested in.

paisleyleaf Sat 07-Nov-09 08:47:51

Two years/five years, then what? You'd have to make a decision to opt out? Sounds a bit tricksy to me.
Better to opt in by marrying or making a will I think.

ceres Sat 07-Nov-09 09:01:07

presumably if a co-habiting couple with children split up the children would have the same rights of inheritance as children born to married parents who later divorced.

i agree that there needs to be an awareness raising campaign so that people know the law has changed.

edam - i knew there was something about joint mortgages. that sounds right about there being a difference between joint tenants and tenants in common. when we had our first mortgage we were unmarried and i remember being told about it - just can't remember the exact details!

bamboostalks Sat 07-Nov-09 09:07:42

Just write a will. This will just line the pockets of lawyers as there would be endless court cases where there are disagreements about the nature of the relationship, how long it was for, etc. At least a marriage is a legal agreement understood by all. That cannot be translated into a living together scenario, its far too complex. My brother is just moving out of someone's flat after 3 years together, imagine if she had died? Would he be entitled to that flat? I don't think so.

paisleyleaf Sat 07-Nov-09 09:10:33

ceres, the law hasn't changed - they're just talking about it.

foxinsocks Sat 07-Nov-09 09:18:48

I think it's fine but nanny state again in that what they really should be saying is GET A F'ING WILL

Think they should run something through employers whereby your employer arranges legal advice for its employees to get wills - we are thinking of doing this next month for our employees as a casual conversation I had with some of them showed that most people, even those with kids, hadn't bothered to make them!

so rather put the money into incentivising people to get wills - perhaps a scheme whereby someone comes in via the employer(like employers do for pensions etc.) or provide a pack to everyone when they register their children's birth etc. etc.

noddyholder Sat 07-Nov-09 09:26:32

I have been with dp 20 yrs and we aren't married and have no intention of getting married.We have one ds and a house that we own outright together and are completely committed to one another.I love him to bits and I hope vice versa and I don't want someone elses idea of 'commitment' and a set of values forced on us when we have done very well with our own for yrs.A piece of paper guarantees a few things legally and finacially and this should be the right of all couples but it means nothing emotionally and doesn't stop domestic violence abuse affairs etc With 2 in 3 marriages ending in divorce and all that entails it does a good enough job undermining its significance itself!Having said that I think its a great day out and has afforded me some lovely dresses and hotel stays in the past so am happy for others to keep doing it grin

GypsyMoth Sat 07-Nov-09 09:37:21

I agree with you too noddy. Marriage is a bit of a joke really when so many end so easily. The sensible option is just avoid it. And make a will instead.

Carikube Sat 07-Nov-09 09:39:47

DH and I finally got round to sorting out wills after dd was born this year as we were aware that even being married wouldn't necessarily guarantee anything if one of us died (the house is in his name as he owned it before I ever moved in so if he died before me there could have been some difficulty in me getting it before probate was sorted). The solicitor explained that the 'joint tenants'/'tenants in common' distinction is important if you don't have a will but now that we do it becomes irrelevant as we are automatically leaving everything to each other.

Making wills clears up a lot of confusion and more should be done to encourage people (both married and unmarried) to do so rather than looking at changes to the law that might not meet everyone's needs.

FlyMeToDunoon Sat 07-Nov-09 09:44:24

Carikube can I ask how much it cost you to get will drawn up?

HerBoomWhizzBangitude Sat 07-Nov-09 10:05:12

The problem with this proposal is that it will solve one bunch of problems and then create another.

"Casual" relationships can go on for years. The one advantage of marriage, is that everyone knows exactly where they are. There is no ambiguity. Just because someone has been with someone else for seven or eight years, doesn't mean it is a serious long term relationship - it can simply mean that both parties are in a rut but can't be arsed to find someone else - life has a momentum of its own. Seriously, I have known couples who have wasted years of each other's lives, who if they'd had to get married to live together, would never have moved in together. And they would have been horrified if it was suggested to them that the other one would automatically inherit some or all of their estate. I can imagine a whole spate of court cases arising from any law that gets passed along these lines.

HerBoomWhizzBangitude Sat 07-Nov-09 10:06:04

Flyme I got a will drawn up about 8 years ago and it cost £70. You can get it cheaper but I think getting a solicitor to do it is safest.

edam Sat 07-Nov-09 10:31:04

It's not just wills though, it's inheritance tax, being next of kin (who gets to decide to turn off the life support machine, who gets to choose the gravestone) etc. etc. etc.

I think it was Yorkiegirl who had a very instructive thread here when her dh died.

You don't have to have all the baggage of traditional marriage, you can just treat it as a legal ceremony that protects both of you and your kids if, God forbid, anything happens. No big ceremony or dressing up or change of names required - you can just give what, 48 hours notice, drop in at the registry office and carry on with your lives as before. I think it would be an awful lot safer for couples in stable, long term relationships.

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