Are you cohabiting? Should you consider making a will?

There are over three million cohabiting families in the UK. With cohabiting being the fastest growing type of family structure, this number is set to rise.

Many people assume that their assets will automatically pass to their surviving partner, believing that they will be protected under 'common law marriage' – however this is not recognised by law. In fact, if either you or your partner pass away, the surviving cohabitee will not receive any of the other partner’s assets unless the item is in joint names or specified in their will.

If you are cohabiting it is essential to make a will as the surviving cohabitee does not have an automatic right to their partner's estate; unlike married couples.

Disputes around inheritance can take years to resolve and therefore, to protect your family and loved ones, it is imperative that wills are made to ensure that the estate goes to your chosen beneficiaries.

The intestacy rules set out who inherits your estate when a person has not left a will. The rules do not make provisions for cohabiting couples or step children. If you have children they will inherit your estate, however if you do not have children the estate could pass to your parents or siblings. This may mean that your cohabitee may not receive any assets from your estate.

With a will in place, you can ensure that your wishes are clear and that your cohabitee will inherit your estate.

If you would like to discuss making a will with a member of our team, please contact 0113 201 4900 or email

Kiran Hamilton

Written by

Kiran Hamilton

Wills & Probate

Kiran is a solicitor in our Wills & Probate team and has specialised in this field since she qualified in 2014. Kiran studied at The University of Huddersfield and BPP Law School and worked in litigation before deciding to specialise in Wills & Probate.  Kiran is studying for her Society of Trust...

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