Unmarried couples urged to consider creating wills to protect loved ones

April 23, 2024

A Cheshire-based wills and probate solicitor believes it is imperative that unmarried couples create wills to protect loved ones and ensure their wishes are respected.

Jennifer Stewart, a member of the private client department at Warrington’s Watsons Solicitors, has voiced concerns for those in long-term partnerships following the latest marriage statistics.

Figures issued by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimate that the proportion of people aged 16 or older in England and Wales who are married or in a civil partnership has fallen below 50 per cent.

The number dropped to 49.4 per cent in 2022, down from 49.7 per cent across the previous 12 months and a reduction from 51.2 per cent a decade earlier.

With couples seemingly shying away from marriage, Jennifer said: “It has never been more important for unmarried partners to give serious consideration to their circumstances and the real need to make a will to protect their partners and family.

“Irrespective of the length of a relationship, unmarried couples do not automatically acquire legal rights on the death of their partner and therefore, where assets are not held jointly, there will be a requirement to prove a dependency which can result in a complex, emotional, and expensive legal claim.

“Furthermore, the tax system in this country is generally much less favourable to unmarried couples most notably in respect of inheritance tax transferable allowances. Therefore, detailed professional advice and consideration will assist to provide an awareness and understanding in this regard.”

Jennifer feels that unmarried couples should also contemplate having a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place.

An LPA is a registered legal agreement in which an individual appoints an Attorney – or Attorneys – who can make decisions regarding their health and welfare and/or property and financial affairs in the event that they are unable to make their own.

“Individuals in unmarried couples need to give thought to what would happen should they lose capacity,” continued Jennifer. “The standing and views of unmarried partners are not always recognised, and this can cause not only significant emotional distress but also legal hurdles. 

“LPA’s enable your partner to become your voice and advocate and give them power to act in your best interest. If registered, LPA’s can be used immediately and without delay should the circumstances require.”

To speak to someone at Watsons Solicitors about writing a will or lasting power of attorney, please contact enquiries@watsonssolicitors.com or call 01925 571212.

Watsons Solicitors, which has been established for more than 60 years, specialises in family lawemployment law, wills and probate, and conveyancing. The team of experienced solicitors holds various accreditations and memberships of professional bodies relevant to their expertise, while the firm’s partners oversee all areas of work.

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