Published On: Thu, Feb 23rd, 2017

Cohabiting: Losing Your Long-Term Home to Your Partners Estranged Wife

A Will is a legally binding document that sets out what happens to a person’s assets and finances after they die. However, if a Will is not put in place, is not up to date, or other complexities arise, individuals can be thrown in to more uncertainty and distress.

If you live with your partner, but they are still married, you will need to ensure that the Will reflects what will happen to the property you live in, should they pass away.

Losing a home, or even part of it can put a massive strain on an individual’s security, and this level of uncertainty can often cause a great deal of stress and upset for all parties involved.

A home not only provides shelter and warmth, it also provides financial security, and if in your name, provides you the means by which to sell the home should you ever need to for additional capital, or simply to move to another location.

On the contrary, if the home you live in is jointly owned by you and your partner, and they are still married, their half of the home would be automatically begiven to the estranged wife, throwing your future security in to uncertainty.

As yet, the law does not recognise the seriousness of long term relationships if the two parties are not married, which means individuals would be required to take their case to court if they find themselves in this situation.

It is of paramount importance that individuals in long-term, committed relationships recognise the need to protect each other’s future after death, ensuring that the contents of the Will or rules of intestacy reflect their wishes.

How to Draw Up a Will

What you state in your Will decides what will happen to your money, property and assets after death.

If you own a uncomplex estate and do not have large sums of money, businesses or offshore accounts, you may be able to draw up your own Will, without the assistance of a legal representative. However, if your estate is more complex, or you feel you would be unable to explain clearly what you wish to happen to your assets once you pass away, it is of paramount importance that you seek the help of a qualified legal advisor.

When You’ll Need to Seek Legal Advice

Although your estate may not seem complicated to you, administering it after your death can cause a wide variety of problems, particularly if you own assets in other countries. To help avoid the further distress that can be caused after your passing, it is advisable to seek the help of reputable legal professionals when:

You live in the same property as someone that is not your husband, wife or civil partner

You own property over seas

You own one or several businesses

You are aware of individuals that may intend to make a claim against your Will (contest probate) such as children from another marriage, or a second spouse

You wish to leave property to a dependent who cannot care for themselves

When drawing up the contents of your Will, you should set out the following terms:

Who the beneficiaries of you Will will be

What will happen to any dependents under the age of 18

Who will become the executor of your estate – person that will carry out all of the wishes laid out in your Will after your death

Although a Will should be updated to reflect your current circumstances and desires, provisions should also be set out for what you will want to happen if the beneficiaries of your Will pass away before you do.

Where to Keep Your Will

A Will is a legal document, and it is imperative that it is kept in a safe place, ensuring that the wishes stated will be carried out.

There is no obligation to give your Will to a legal professional to keep, and if you wish to, you may keep your Will at home. However, you may also hand your Will over to:

Your solicitor

A specialist Will storage company – you are likely to a wide variety of dedicated Will storage companies online. However, you must ensure that the companies you liaise with are reputable. Reading the terms and conditions of how they store your Will is a necessity.

Your bank

The London Probate Service

Of course, you must inform your appointed executor where you have decided to keep your Will to assist efficiency one you pass away.

Is Your Will Legally Valid?

A Will is not deemed valid, if it has not been properly executed.

The execution of a Will may refer to clerical necessities or other provisions including;

The individuals drawing up the Will must be at least 18 years old.

The individual drawing up the Will must be doing so voluntarily, and without coercion or influence from others.

The Will must be made in writing – not electronically or in any other form.

The individual drawing up the Will must be of sound mind, and not suffering from any illness that may affect their judgement.

The Will must be signed by two witnesses in the presence of the testator (person drawing up the Will) but not necessarily in front of each other.

The testator must also sign the Will in the presence of both the appointed witnesses, and they must be present at the same time.

If you are unsure where you stand in the eyes of the law, it is of paramount importance that you seek advice to avoid future complexities, and to ensure your wishes are properly carried out after your passing.

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