Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a ‘common law marriage’ or the more popularly banded about term ‘common law wife’.


In England and Wales only people who are married or those in civil partnerships can rely on the laws about dividing up finances when they die, or if they separate. If your partner dies and you were not married or in a civil partnership and they haven’t made a Will, you have no absolutely no automatic entitlement to inherit anything from them. This even includes the family home where you live if it is in your partner’s name and even if you own it jointly as ‘tenants in common’ their half doesn’t automatically become yours. You would be left to make an application to court for provision from the estate as a dependant, these applications are uncertain and can be expensive.

Whilst we understand that marriage or civil partnerships aren’t for everyone, planning for the inevitable should be. For most people a straightforward Will is all that is required to cover the distribution of their estate which means that for £150 you can ensure that your partner will inherit what you would want them to when you die.

Whilst finance and inheritance might not be the most romantic of reasons to get married they are very sensible reasons to do so and a simple way of ensuring that you benefit from the now transferable £325000 inheritance tax threshold known as the nil rate band. Currently a husband, wife or civil partner can leave everything to their legal partner without the estate paying a penny of tax regardless of how much the estate is worth. On the contrary, anything left to an unmarried partner over and above the nil rate band – suffers tax at 40%. You only have to have a quick look at house prices in the South East to see that a great many people will be facing paying at least something to the taxman.

According to the ONS in 2016 there were 3.3 million cohabiting couples in England and according to a 2014 you.gov survey at least 62% of people have not written a Will. Whatever way you look at it that is a huge amount of unnecessary tax that will have to be paid and an even bigger amount of entirely avoidable stress that dying without a Will can cause to those left behind.

For more information regarding writing your Will or for expert tax planning advice please contact Nsure Estate Planning Services on 01903 821010 or via email at wills@nsure.co.uk