Yes. For unmarried couples, wills are doubly-important. It is estimated that two-thirds of people never get round to making a will. Put starkly: if you aren’t married to your partner (or aren’t in a civil partnership – see later) and die before you make a will, your partner won’t automatically inherit anything from you. By law, it is irrelevant how long you have been together or how much you love your other half. Everything will go to the nearest blood relative.
Not only that, but there are other good reasons to make a will:
- You can appoint a guardian for your children to look after them if you and anyone else with parental responsibility die, and ensure they will be provided for (see below).
- You can select the person to sort out your affairs after your death, otherwise it is the nearest relative.
- You can state your wishes for your funeral.
- You can leave a particular type of tenancy to protect loved ones from having to find a new home after your death.
- You might not have much in life but your estate could receive a compensation or death in service payout which, without a will, would go to a blood relative and not your partner.
Thanks very much to Punam Denley, a partner at the International Family Law Group LLP for reviewing and to David Hodson, also partner at the International Family Law Group LLP, who reviewed an earlier version which appeared in A Parent’s Guide to the Law by Jon Robins (LawPack , 2009). Stephen Lawson, a litigation partner at Forshaws Davies Ridgway LLP assisted with the section on the CSA.
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council's journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year's Criminal Justice Alliance's journalism award