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The importance of making a will: Unmarried couples

Written by Itziar

Mary and Clark have lived together for the last year. Clark works and Mary is studying so she depends financially on him. They haven't registered as a civil partnership. What happens if he passes away without having a will?

A Will is an official legal declaration by which a person (called the "testator")directs what will be done with his property and assets (the estate) after death. The will usually include the name of the person the testator wants to act as the estate executor.

A will has no legal effect until the death of the person. The people you leave your property to have no rights until you pass away.

If you die without a will, specific rules determine how your money and possessions will be distributed, which might not be how you want them to be distributed. A will is a way to control the transfer of your estate to your loved ones after death.

A person who dies without a will is known as an intestate. An intestate loses the power to decide who will inherit their assets and be divided according to state law. Whether you have much money or possessions or not, it is important to make a will because only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy, so the death of a partner can seriously affect you unless you have a will. It is also important to make a will to make arrangements for children in case one or both parents die. Making a will and getting advice can also reduce the tax payable. It is in your best interest and the interest of your family to prepare a will before your death.

The first thing to consider in Mary's case is that if her partner dies without a will, given that they are not in a civil partnership, she will not inherit anything. As the intestacy laws do not provide for partners who are not married or in a civil partnership, her personal and financial situation will be complicated, especially if she lives in her partner's home, as she will have no right to continue living there. So to protect Mary, the best her partner can do is make a will.

Now, what are the requirements to follow for the will to be valid?

  • it must be voluntarily made by someone 18 years old or over
  • the person must be of sound mind and aware of the nature of the document.
  • in writing
  • signed by the person making the will with the presence of two witnesses
  • signed by the two witnesses in the presence of the person making the will after it has been signed.

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