The continuing growth in popularity of co-habitation is putting tens of thousands more people at risk of losing the roof over their head if their partner dies without a will.
Homelessness could become the stark reality for people at any age, including those who’ve lived happily with a partner for decades, says specialist wills lawyer, Alex Mitchell.
Indeed, there is a strong argument for anyone over the age of 18 to make a will, added Alex, a partner and head of the wills and probate team in Watsons Solicitors in Warrington.
“And people put off making a will through fear of a potentially high cost may well be pleasantly surprised. The will writing market today is competitive, which keeps down the price,” she said.
Alex explained: “If you are living with someone as husband and wife or as civil partners, and you pass away and have not left any provision for your partner, they may be eligible to make a claim to the court to become your beneficiary. But they have to persuade a judge that they should be entitled to benefit under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
“This can be an expensive exercise if contested by other beneficiaries, with no guarantee of success.
“The application of the rules of inheritance for married couples and civil partners generally result in the surviving spouse or civil partner to receive everything on the first death, then to the children on the death of the surviving spouse or civil partner.
“Contrary to popular perception, there is no such thing as a common-law wife or husband. If your live-in partner dies, you could end up with people that you don’t see or have never met inheriting everything.
“It’s far better to make a will.”
A recommended wills solicitor in Warrington, Alex explained the process at Watsons Solicitors.
“We have a fixed fee, which is transparent, which we confirm with you when you phone to make the appointment,” she added.
“You initially need one appointment, where a specialist wills solicitor will speak about your financial circumstances. We don’t need lots of detailed figures, as an approximate worth is okay. We’ll also find out about your family circumstances, including children or stepchildren, then we draft the will.
“If you’re happy with the draft, you come in and sign it, and we will provide witnesses for you. Alternatively you can sign your will away from the office if you choose to sort out your own witnesses.
“Watsons Solicitors has a wills strong room on site, where we will hold your original free of charge, so you need not worry where to safely store it at home.”
Finally, said Alex, adults of any age should think about preparing a will.
“Anyone over 18 is allowed to make a will. You should think about it as soon as you start getting any assets, such as money in the bank, and not even necessarily a house, but definitely if you own or co-own a house. It could save a lot of upset and expense for your loved ones.”
Founded more than 60 years ago, Watsons Solicitors specialises in wills and probate, employment law, family law and conveyancing.
Its experienced solicitors each hold accreditations and memberships of professional bodies relevant to their expertise, while the firm’s partners oversee all areas of work.