Whether you believe in marriage or not the fact remains that married couples receive protection under the Law and a well defined set of rules in the event of marriage break down and unmarried couples do not have this protection.
Whether you believe in marriage or not the fact remains that married couples receive protection under the Law and a well defined set of rules in the event of marriage break down and unmarried couples do not have this protection. Similarly if a partner dies the Law does not give the same rights and privileges to a surviving partner as to a surviving spouse.
There are even more problems if one or both partners remain married to someone else.
It may not seem very romantic to take advice prior to setting up home together and this is perhaps why people do not.
It is well worth taking legal advice to find out about such things and see what can be done to make the position of each party more certain. This article is intended to give you help in getting ready to take the advice.
Make sure you have some written information available to show to your Solicitor.
The information you need to produce on finance and property matters would include the following:-
• A list of your assets and liabilities and those of your partner.
• If you own your home its approximate value and in whose name it is vested.
• The contributions that you and your partner have made to the value of the home (don’t forget work carried out on the property).
• Your earnings and those of your partner and what is done with these earnings.
• Whether either of you have children from another relationship or if you have children together.
• A brief history of your relationship with dates (I don’t mean a list of visits to the local cinema or night club!)
Over the next few editions I shall deal with several areas of Law on which Solicitors advise people in relationships, both married and otherwise and the one I am going to deal with first is Home Ownership:-
If the house is in your partners name then the following consequences apply:
• You will not automatically inherit the house unless your deceased partner has put this in their Will. If they have not or there is no Will then you will need to make a claim against the estate through the Court. This applies whether you are married or unmarried.
• If unmarried and your relationship breaks down during life time you would have no right to a share of the proceeds of sale of the house unless you were able to prove that you have, for example, contributed to the deposit for the house or the Mortgage payments or have paid for or done major work to the house. If married then your rights are clearer but early in a marriage the same sort of principles apply.
• If the house is in joint names then it is usually held in one of two ways.
• The first is as joint tenants. This means that you are usually entitled to 50% of the money if the property is sold. Another important factor is that the property comes to you on the death of the other joint tenant regardless of what is said in his or her Will.
• The other is as tenants in common. In this case you can formally agree what share of the property each of you own by having the Solicitor draw up a short Deed of Trust. It is also important if you want to leave the share to your partner or spouse that you say this in your Will.
If the property is rented then obviously it is a good idea to have the tenancy in both names.
You will have gathered from the above that even married couples need to take proper advice on property matters and make proper wills in order to ensure that things turn out as they intend.
To advise you on relationship matters, including wills and Inheritance Tax, children, finance and property, you need qualified and experienced people. At Paul Finn Solicitors we have such people who will be pleased to see you. We shall always give you information about our costs “up front” and look after you with friendliness and respect.
If you have an existing professional relationship with one of our lawyers then please speak to him or her. If not I suggest your first points of contact on these various matters are as follows:-
Home Ownership Land and Property – Contact Michael Brown or Christopher Frost.
Inheritance Tax and Wills – Contact Philip Dart or Paul Finn, both are registered Trusts and Estate Practitioners as well as being Solicitors
Children or relationship breakdown – Contact Paul Finn who is also a member of The Law Society Family Law Panel
If problems have already arisen we may be able to help you put things back on an even keel. If things have gone too far wrong and you feel you have a legal claim to pursue or defend then contact Paul Finn or Martin Curnow.
In any event don’t just worry about things, come and see us – it could change your life for the better.
Paul Finn is Principal of Paul Finn Solicitors.
Director, Paul Finn Solicitors
Tel: 01288 356 256