A Guide to Wills for Unmarried Couples

Wills are essential for married couples, but they are perhaps even more important for unmarried couples. Unlike married couples, unmarried partners do not automatically inherit anything should their partner pass away; therefore, it is vital to have a Will in place to ensure that your partner is taken care of.

Unmarried Couples and Inheritance

Millions of couples are cohabiting in the UK without choosing to get married. This can be for many reasons, such as: 

  • bad experiences with previous marriages
  • financial reasons
  • simply because they are not interested

The number of unmarried couples living together has quadrupled in only fifteen years, but there are no provisions for unmarried couples inheriting from each other.

If you are unmarried, have children, and pass away without a Will, your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. Your children will inherit equal parts of your estate, but your partner will not inherit anything.

If you live with your partner and do not own your home jointly, this can also present many difficulties, as if not provided for in a Will, you or they could need to move out of your home. 

Where the rules of intestacy allow married couples to inherit from their partner’s estate automatically, unmarried couples only have the right to claim against their partner’s estate if they have been living together for more than two years. Despite this, they have no entitlement to any assets or belongings unless they are jointly owned. 

Claiming against an estate is also a costly process. It often costs approximately £1,000 to make a claim, and a deed of variation will need to be created to allow you to inherit from your partner. This deed will also only be possible if all of the people who inherit under the rules of intestacy agree that you can inherit from the estate. 

Creating a Will

The best way to ensure that your partner is provided for after your death, whether you are married or unmarried, is to create a Will. Wills allow you to stipulate which of your loved ones gets what from your estate and give your partner financial security for life.

Make sure to include the following in your Will:

  • Property – you can use your Will to ensure that your partner has the right to remain in your property after you pass away.
  • Money – you can set out where your money goes and provide your partner with enough to live on.
  • Possessions – you can outline which of your possessions you want your partner to receive, such as cars or jewellery. 

Be sure to stipulate that your partner has the right to be involved in your estate after your death; otherwise, the law may not recognise that they should be involved. 

Wills can also layout funeral wishes for your partner to carry out upon your death or name your partner as the legal guardian for your children. Having a Will in place can also have many Inheritance Tax (IHT) benefits that allow you to leave a larger portion of your estate to your loved ones. 

Creating a Will to take care of all of your loved ones can seem like a daunting challenge, but it doesn’t need to be. The Planning Bee is here to help with all of your later life planning needs, and our paralegals are available for a consultation to help you draft your Will in a way that provides for everyone you want to include. 

It is vital for unmarried couples who plan to marry to understand that marriage revokes any Wills created before marriage. However, when making your Will, it is possible to request a clause stating that your Will was created in contemplation of marriage and should not be invalidated after you are married. 

Benefits of Making a Will

There are more benefits to making a Will than just providing for your chosen loved ones and partner. Additional benefits include:

  • Reducing IHT tax payable – the rate of IHT payable in the UK is 40% on everything in your estate over the value of £325,000. Wills can help you plan around IHT to reduce the amount you pay and allow you to leave more to the ones you love. For example, leaving property to children and grandchildren or leaving gifts to charity can lower your IHT bill. 
  • Avoiding inheritance disputes – strong Wills vastly reduce the possibility of any inheritance disputes after death. Including the reasons for lack of provision in a Will can reduce the possibility of disputes from those who feel they should have been provided for. 
  • Decide on an executor – your executor, or executors if you decide to appoint multiple people, are the people in charge of carrying out the wishes you detail in your Will. By choosing in advance, you can select the best person for the task who will respect your wishes. You can also appoint a professional executor to take the emotional strain of administering your estate off your loved ones. 

These benefits can save money and heartache for your family in the future. 

Making a Will is much easier than it seems too – professional Will writing services provide airtight Wills for a fraction of the cost of what a solicitor would charge with all of the benefits. 


Having a Will in place is essential for unmarried couples to ensure that each partner is cared for after the other passes away. Without a valid Will, your estate reverts to the rules of intestacy, and people you may not want to inherit could take the majority of your estate while your partner would not benefit at all. 

Having a Will in place eradicates this risk and allows you to provide for your partner for the rest of their life. A Will can also have many additional benefits, including lowering the IHT payable on your estate. 

Contact The Planning Bee today for more information about our expert Will writing services. Our paralegals have decades of experience in the later life planning field and are available to help with all your estate planning needs.

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