Solely owned property:
Even though a property occupied by two co-habiting partners may be held in the sole name of only one it is possible that later the other party may acquire an interest in the value of the property – by a number of means including by reference to an informal understanding between the parties and acts of reliance or contribution deriving from this. In this situation a Co-habitation Agreement may be extremely useful to crystalise the parties' thoughts and intentions and so avoid potential disputes.
If one of you were to die without having made provision in a Will for the other (i.e. intestate- see separate briefing note) the deceased’s Estate will pass by a process of priority laid down by law to members of their family. This could leave the surviving partner potentially homeless and financially vulnerable. In certain cases the surviving partner might have a claim against the Estate under the Inheritance Act (see separate note “contested Wills”) – surely it is better to avoid these risks altogether? These matters may be addressed by the preparation of an up to date Will and consideration of financial planning such as life insurance.
We sometimes take our good health for granted. We are all statistically likely to lose the ability to work or to manage our affairs – by virtue of age or illness at some stage in our life. It makes sense to plan for this by considering a Lasting Power of Attorney and reviewing your financial arrangements. In order to tackle these issues effectively you need to be able to access advice from a variety of legal specialisms – property law, family law and Wills and private client. You may also need advice on taxation and financial planning issues.
It is an urban myth that co-habitation with a partner for a certain amount of time gives each party the same rights as a couple who are formally married. This is not so. On the breakdown of a common law relationship a Court has no power to make Orders for the sharing of capital or pensions on a discretionary “needs” based approach as it does within a divorce. Questions concerning interest in family property are dealt with as set out above – although the Court does have discretion as to when a property is to be sold and who may occupy it in the interim. A deferred sale is common where there are children – but this can still result in significant injustice. A Co-habitation Agreement created at the outset of a relationship may be useful.
At Lawson Lewis Blakers we are able to advise you in relation to:-
Wills – Lasting Powers of Attorney
Ownership of land/Declarations of Trust
Disputes concerning land or Administration of Estates – upon death or dissolution of a relationship.
We are able to work closely with your existing independent financial adviser or to make a recommendation to ensure that your future needs are planned for comprehensively.