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Common Law misconception can leave unmarried partners penniless

When it comes to inheritance, there’s no such thing as “common law” rights.

Sadly, many surviving unmarried partners discover this all too late i.e. when their loved one has passed away without a will and they are left facing the harsh reality of the law: if you’re unmarried and die without making a will, your partner will inherit precisely nothing.

The laws relating to unmarried couples who die intestate (without a will) determine that the deceased’s estate must pass through the following pecking order: children, parents, siblings and nephews or nieces. Surviving partners don’t feature in the list.

Occasionally surviving partners have attempted to claim their deceased partner’s estate through The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. This is an expensive, messy procedure and any outcome is entirely at the discretion of the court.

If you’re unmarried, making a will remains the only way to ensure your partner inherits your assets when you die.