Headline case emphasises importance of making and updating your Will

Thu 11th Feb 2016

Coodes Private Client Associate Sarah Cornish comments on a headline case in which a bereaved woman has been faced with losing her home after the death of her long term partner.

“Yet another news story this week has emphasised the importance of making a Will, and keeping it up to date. In this case, a 69 year old woman, Joy Williams, faces losing the home she shared with her partner, after he died without having an up-to-date Will. Norman Martin never divorced his estranged wife, who is now set to inherit half of the house he shared with Miss Williams, his partner of 18 years.

“This is a very sad situation, which could have been avoided if Mr Martin had updated his Will, to recognise his partner. Unfortunately, it appears that Mr Martin failed to update his Will following the separation from his wife and his assets will now pass to his wife, including his half share of the house owned jointly with Miss Williams.

“Cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type in the UK and this is not limited to younger people; with divorce rates also increasing, many new couples are forming relationships later in life and then living together without getting married. At Coodes we are advising a growing number of cohabiting couples who recognise the importance of putting a Will into place to protect the interests of their partner in the event of their death. Although some people still believe in the common law myth, the fact is that you have no legal status as an unmarried couple so a Will is crucial if you are living together. If you do not have a Will when you die, the laws of intestacy will rule how your assets are divided. This generally means your spouse will inherit if you are married, even if you are separated, or, if you are unmarried, your children or your parents rather than your partner.

“Conversely, if you are planning to get married or enter a Civil Partnership, it is worth being aware that your new legal status will revoke any existing Wills you have made. This means your spouse will inherit his or her share regardless of what is in your Will – this could be significant if you want your Will to provide for your children from a previous relationship.

“The key is firstly to make a Will and secondly to ensure that you regularly review it and update it to ensure it reflects your current situation and wishes. The Private Client team here at Coodes have the breadth and depth of expertise to advise you on the best way to approach this, whatever your circumstances. We have both members of the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners and the independent national organisation Solicitors for the Elderly in the team.”

To make a Will, please contact Coodes’ Private Client team for advice: privateclient@coodes.co.uk or call 01579 347600.

Thu 11th Feb 2016

Sarah Cornish

Head of Private Client

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