What happens when one cohabiting partner dies

Jan 30, 2020

It is an unfortunate that cohabitants can lose their standard of living or even the place they called home if one partner dies. A will is a critical document to have any family, and for unmarried couples the absence of a will can mean no legal redress at all.

If you are married or in a civil partnership, the Succession Act 1965 entitles your surviving partner to a legal right share of your estate when you die, no matter what you have said or specified in your will. This is not the case for cohabiting couples!

Rights of cohabiting couples?

If you are in a cohabiting relationship, there is nothing to prevent you from leaving some or all of your property to your partner in your will, once you have taken account of the tax implications. Making a will is so important for both of you.

the only saving grace is that the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act, 2010 allows for an economically dependent partner to be considered when a long-term partner’s estate is being wound up.

The 2010 Act also allows a financially dependent cohabitant to apply to Court for redress on the breakdown of the relationship. However, no rights are automatically awarded to a financially dependent cohabitant if the relationship ends as the result of death or otherwise and each case will be looked at on its individual merits.

Who is regarded as financially dependent?

For a person to prove that they were financially dependent on their cohabiting partner, an application would have to be made to Court under the aforementioned Act. One of the criteria to prove that a person is a “qualified cohabitant” is to show that the relationship lasted five years or more. For unmarried couples with children, this period is reduced to two years or more.

What next ?

If you are the asset rich person, why leave your partner in such a stressful and poor position? Take tax and financial advice and then, make a will. NOW !!

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