Advice Admin & Legal Wills for Couples - What Do You Need to Know?

Wills for Couples - What Do You Need to Know?

It's very common for people to start thinking about sorting their will when they get married or have a long term partner. If this is you then you've come to the right place. Here we go through everything you might need to know before making your will as a couple.

Why might you need a will for you and your partner?

To ensure your estate is distributed the way you want

Dying with no will in place means that all your assets are shared out according to the rules of intestacy. These rules might not match your wishes and are impersonal. What exactlt are the rules of intestacy? You can check the government website for yourself or read our guide here.

To appoint guardians for your children and pets

Those of you with children under 18 might want to ensure that they're taken care of if both parents were to die. Writing a will means you can appoint guardians for your children. Of course, it’s quite unlikely that both parents die but it's better to have peace of mind that in this situation your children are in the best hands. Often overlooked is pets, as you might want a specific person to look after your animal after you are gone.

To make an inventory of your estate

Your beneficiaries will only inherit assets that can be found. It costs families on average £9,700 when someone dies without a will. This is often because certain assets like pensions and savings accounts can go unclaimed if the family does not know about them. If there's a professional executor involved, the longer it takes them to find your assets, the larger the bill. Writing a will allows you to make a list of your assets meaning that everything can easily be found.

Note: This doesn't need to be exhaustive and 100% accurate at the time of death. It's often suggested you update your will every five years so that the snapshot is as accurate as it can be.

Being remembered in the right way

Lots of us don't like to talk about death and therefore the conversation of how we'd like to be remembered may not come up. This is changing around the world, and people are opening the dialogue around what they want to happen when they die. If you've got particular songs, poems or a location you would like for your funeral, it’s important to have these conversations or to let people know. One way this can be done is in your will - and it's often the case your family will take pride in planning the funeral the way you wanted it.

Do I need a will if I’m married or in a civil partnership?

If you die without a will and you are married or in a civil partnership the rules of intestacy come in to play and it may be the case that your partner inherits everything. This can be what you want, but the common exceptions are people wanting children, grandchildren or nieces and nephews to inherit some thems. A will allows you to gift part of your estate to individuals that the rules of intestacy might exclude. There might also be specific gifts or messages you’d like to be left behind for certain people - without a will, this will often go to your partner.

Do I need a will if I’m not married?

If you've lived with your partner for a long time without being married, then you're considered common-law partners and you don't have the same rights as married couples. Despite a couple living together for many years, even if you have children, the rights following a partner’s death may not be the same. It can be the case that your long time partner will inherit nothing and all assets pass on to your next of kin.

What do unmarried partners inherit?

Unmarried couples only inherit what's written into their partner’s will. Without a will, intestacy laws come into play. These rules prioritise spouses and civil partners, children, and siblings in that order. Unmarried couples aren't provided for, regardless of how long you've lived together or whether you have children. Writing your partner into your will gets around these issues. There are cases where your unmarried partner will inherit your share of a property, but this depends on the type of ownership.

Unmarried tenants in common

If you and your partner purchased a house together as ‘tenants in common’, both of you have a half-share of the house. In this case, if one of you dies then your half of the house will be subject to intestacy laws - meaning that it could be inherited by someone else.

Unmarried joint tenants

If you and your unmarried partner are registered as joint tenants, then both of you have equal rights to the whole property and it automatically passes to your partner in case of death. This might not be what you want.

Who inherits if an unmarried couple has children together?

In this case, your children will inherit everything that you own. If they are under the age of 18, then whatever they inherit will be held in a trust until they reach adulthood. This can be problematic if your partner is financially dependent on you, as they'll not have access to what is held in the trust.

How to ensure unmarried partners will inherit?

If you are an unmarried couple then making a will is essential to being prepared for the future. By writing a will you can ensure that your partner is properly protected after you die. Sadly, cases like the one outlined in the Telegraph article are becoming increasingly common as more couples choose to live together unmarried. Plan ahead now and you’ll feel reassured that your loved ones won’t have to endure the stress of financial worries on top of bereavement.

Writing your couples will today

You can easily write your will today with Guardian Angel. Our online will service allows you to protect your loved ones in as little as 15 minutes. If you are wanting couples will, simple enter your partner's email and we will send them information on finishing the process, and a discount!

Once you sign up and fill in your details, we do the rest. We will review and approve your will before sending it out to you for you to sign and make it legally binding.