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Why cohabitees need a Will?
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Home / Making a Will / Importance of Making a Will / Why cohabitees need a Will?

If you have lived with someone for some time you will probably wish for that person to be looked after financially in the event that you die before them. If that is the case you should make a will.

What would happen if I don’t make a will?

Jointly owned property

If you jointly own property with your cohabitee they may inherit your share in the property if you die. However, this will depend upon how the property is held.

Property can be jointly owned in one of 2 ways. The joint owners can own the property as “joint tenants” or as “tenants in common”.

If you and your cohabitee own property as joint tenants if you die your share will pass automatically pass to your cohabitee. If, however, you and your cohabitee own property as tenants in common if you don’t make a will your share in the property will pass in accordance with the “rules of intestacy”.


If you die without making a will you will be said to have died “intestate”. The property and assets of a person who dies intestate are distributed to certain of their surviving relatives in accordance with the rules of intestacy. The rules of intestacy make no provision for cohabitees even where there are no surviving relatives.

The Courts do have the power (under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 to override the rules of intestacy where the distribution of a person’s estate in accordance with the rules would not adequately provide for certain classes of people, including cohabitees, in certain circumstances.

Claims made under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

If you die without making a will your cohabitee may be able to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 on the basis that “reasonable financial provision” has not been made for them. However, a cohabitee can only bring such a claim if:

  • they lived with you in the same household as your spouse during the whole of the period of two years ending immediately before the date when you die;


  • immediately before your death they were being maintained, either wholly or partly, by you.

The Courts take many matters into account when considering an application made under the Act and your cohabite could well end up with being awarded a considerably lesser sum than that you would wish for them to receive.

Court proceedings can be very stressful and costly and may damages relations between your cohabitee and your family.

For these reasons it is, therefore, far better to make provision for your cohabitee by making a will if you wish to make provision for them when you die.

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Single Will or Mirror Wills?

If you are a couple and wish to leave all your assets to each other then you could save money by making  Mirror Wills. You can also use Mirror Wills if you whish to leave your estate to the same beneficiaries. 
If you wish to leave different legacies, appoint different executors or you would like to specify individual funeral wishes then you will need to make two Single Wills.
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