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Will My Partner Automatically Inherit My Estate When I Die?28th Mar 2022

by Jenny Oxley on 28th Mar 2022

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Debunking The Myth

Many people assume that when they die their home, savings and possessions will automatically pass to their spouse – but sometimes the law is not that simple.

With no will, you could be leaving your surviving spouse and children with complex legal problems which could lead to painful and divisive family arguments.

Also, today more people are remarrying. Die without a will and your estate could automatically pass to your second spouse and their offspring. Any children from your first family would receive nothing as of right.

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The Rules Of Intestacy

If you die without making a will (in intestacy) only the first £270,000 of your estate automatically gets given to your spouse. After that, it starts getting shared out among others in a legally defined hierarchy.

If there are surviving children, grandchildren or great grandchildren of the person who died and the estate is valued at more than £270,000, the partner will inherit:

  •     all the personal property and belongings of the person who has died, and
  •     the first £270,000 of the estate, and
  •     half of the remaining estate.

If there are no surviving children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, the partner will inherit:

  •     all the personal property and belongings of the person who has died and
  •     the whole of the estate with interest from the date of death.

This only applies if yourself and your partner are in a legal marriage or civil partnership.

The intestacy rules do not provide for what is often referered to (wrongly) as a ‘common law partner.’ Cohabiting and unmarried couples would not automatically receive assets from a partner’s estate which are held in their sole name if their partner did not have a will. 

Unmarried and cohabiting partners have the legal right to claim against their partner’s estate if they’ve been cohabiting for more than two years. However, they aren’t automatically entitled to any of their partner’s property, financial assets, or belongings unless they’re jointly owned.

Under UK law, cohabiting couples do not enjoy the same legal rights as married (or civil partnership) couples.

Making A Will Is The Only Way Of Guaranteeing That Your Wishes Are Respected After You Have Passed Away

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Do you have any further questions about creating a will? Please contact our Wills and Probate Team.

This document is not intended to constitute and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice on any specific matter. No liability for the accuracy of the content of this document, or the consequences of relying on it, is assumed by the author. If you seek further information, please contact Managing Partner Neil Andrews at Coles Miller Solicitors LLP.