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Deborah Baker, Partner in the Family Department at Wollens gives some top tips on how to protect yourself financially if you are moving in with your partner or buying a house together for the first time.

  • There is no such thing as a common law husband and wife so simply by living together you do not acquire any marital rights to their property or income so you need to make sure that your assets and income are protected and that you are not reliant on them particularly if you end up having children together.
  • If you are buying a property together consider a declaration of trust to protect your investment and to protect any financial investment in the property made by yourself or your family by way of a deposit. If you simply buy the house as what is called ‘beneficial joint tenants’ then if you separate and the house is sold the other party will be entitled to one half of the proceeds of sale no matter what investment you have made by way of a deposit.  If you have a declaration of trust and you own the property as ‘tenants in common’ then your initial investment would be protected on any sale.
  • If you each have a home and you decide to move in to one party’s home and sell the other the seller needs to be aware that if the money from their property is used on holidays and the like while the other party retains their home in their sole name the “seller” will not recover the money that has been spent and furthermore would be a mere licensee in the other party’s property and could be given notice to leave leaving yourself without any money and homeless.
  • Make a Will. If you are not married and your partner dies you will not be treated as their next of kin under the Intestacy Rules, i.e. if they die without making a Will.  You may end up relying on your ability to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act.  For example, if you own a house as joint tenants then the survivor will automatically inherit the house if you own it as tenants in common then you have got separate shares in the property and your partner dies their share will pass to their next of kin under the Intestacy Rules unless they have left it to you in a Will.  There is an order for inheritances so it will be children first, then parents, then brothers and sisters etc., so you may end up owning your house with your deceased partner’s children, his parents, siblings etc., and the house may have to be sold.  Likewise any of their personal belongings such as a car and so on would also pass to family or next of kin on death.  This is a particularly important aspect to deal with when there are second families with children from first marriages etc.
  • Get a living together agreement. Couple this with a Will and potentially a declaration of trust then you can protect yourself and your assets in the event that the relationship does not work out or one of you passes away.

For further information on protecting yourself and your assets speak with Deborah Baker in the Wollens family team

email : [email protected]

call 01271 341000

For general family enquiries please contact us on [email protected]