Posted by James McNeile, Partner
On 1 September 2016 Withy King LLP merged with Royds LLP. The trading name for the merged firm is Royds Withy King. All content produced prior to this date will remain in the name of the firms pre-merger.
Not having a Will could pose problems for unmarried couples
The Law Society has urged unmarried couples to make sure they update their Wills and ensure that the necessary arrangements have been made to support their partner.
If a couple has never married or entered into a civil partnership, and either partner dies without making a Will, the one left behind may not be a beneficiary of the deceased’s estate and could end up getting nothing.
Assets would likely go to children – if there are any – or possibly to estranged husbands or wives, parents or siblings. In the absence of close relatives, it could well be the Government which benefits.
A legal journal recently reported on the case of a bereaved woman, whose long-term partner had not updated his Will. This meant that when he died from a heart attack in 2012, his share of the couple’s house passed to his estranged wife.
His partner, Joy Williams, had to go to court in a fight to remain at the three-bedroom home and though the Judge ultimately ruled in her favour she described the whole process as “traumatic”.
The Law Society has now made the point that an up-to-date Will would have prevented a protracted legal battle and a lot of emotional upheaval for Ms Williams.
Jonathan Smithers, the president of the organisation, said: “This case is an important reminder for unmarried couples to make sure they have a valid and up-to-date Will, and to seek expert legal advice regarding any co-owned property, if they intend their current partner to inherit upon their death.
“Making a Will is extremely important. Solicitors have the necessary qualifications and training to address the often complex issues associated with drafting a will and can help ensure that your estate is left to those who you wish to inherit after your death.”