Will to Give looks at why cohabiting couples, in particular, need a Will.

Will to Give exists to encourage more people living in Northern Ireland to consider leaving a charitable gift in their Will.

As part of our work, we look at the reasons why people actually need a Will.

In today’s article, we are looking specifically at cohabiting couples.

Although there is no legal definition of living together, it generally means to live together as a couple without being married.

You can formalise aspects of your status with a partner by drawing up a legal agreement called a cohabitation contract or living together agreement.

However, it is not clear whether living together agreements are legally enforceable but they can be useful to remind a couple of their original intentions.

In a recent Twitter thread from The Law Society, the following question was asked – 

‘Are there any other measures cohabiting couples can put in place to protect themselves if they split up or one of them dies?’

A common response was – to have a WIll in place.

Here are just a selection of the Twitter replies…

Ben Evans – ‘For property, a declaration of trust is recommended to set out the ownership both legally and beneficially. Cohabiting couples also have no automatic right of inheritance should their partner die, so a will is very important to have in place!’

Farnfields Solicitors – ‘A will that is up to date and reviewed regularly is vital if a cohabiting couple wish for their partner to inherit when they die. Intestacy rules make no provision for partners who are not married to inherit from the other.’

Morrish Solicitors – ‘They should consider making a will if their intention is that their partner is to benefit from their estate after they die. If they want their partner to benefit from a property that they own then they can consider transferring that property into joint names.’

FJG Solicitors – ‘It is always important to have in place a Will and a Power of Attorney in relation to both financial affairs. These should be reviewed regularly and particularly in light of any changes in relationship status or personal circumstances.’

Sternberg Reed- Stratford, Barking, Romford & Grays‏ –  ‘Other than a Cohab, a Will might also be a good idea. A partner who is dependent on the other could make a claim on the other’s death, but a will, making suitable provisions for this, could mitigate this situation.’

When a person dies without leaving a valid will, their property (the estate) must be shared out according to certain rules. These are called the rules of intestacy. 

Only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy, Intestacy rules do not make provision for unmarried couples.

You can follow the full Twitter thread here.


Will to Give is a unique network of charities working together to encourage people in Northern Ireland to leave a charitable gift in their Will.

For more information about how you can leave a gift in your Will click here.

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