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Intestacy rights for some cohabitants

The Law Commission’s final report on Intestacy and Financial Provision Claims on Death proposes inheritance rights on intestacy for some cohabitants.

The Law Commission's final report on Intestacy and Financial Provision Claims on Death was published on 14 December and contains recommendations which will be of interest to family lawyers.

The Report which can be downloaded by clicking here includes two draft bills:

1. A draft Inheritance (Cohabitants) Bill which contains provisions that would give certain unmarried partners who have lived together for five years the right to inherit on each other's death under the intestacy rules. In cases where the unmarried couple have a child together, this entitlement would arise after there had been two years' cohabitation, provided the child was living with the couple at the time the deceased cohabitant died.

2. A draft Inheritance and Trustees' Powers Bill which would: 

Responding to the Law Commission's recommendation that certain cohabitants should be entitled to inheritance rights without a will, Resolution's Chair, David Allison, said:

"We believe this news will come as a relief to the more than two million couples that currently live together, and we would urge the government to take this recommendation forward.

"There is a popular myth that the "common-law" spouse is afforded legal rights - this simply isn't the case. This doesn't mean cohabitants would have equal rights to married couples, but it does reflect the way that many people are choosing to live their lives, and it is important that the law recognises this."