Inheritance & the common law wife

Common law marriage and inheritance

In short: there’s no such thing [not in the sense that you understand it].
The common law wife.
The common law husband.


Certain intestacy protections are [nevertheless they should not be relied upon] available to married folk. There are none such to cohabitees.

One hears: ‘there is no such thing as common law marriage’. This is not true.

There is in law, the doctrine of common law marriage.
It is nothing to do with cohabitation. If you live with someone with someone ‘as if you were married’, [but not married to each other] you are not in a common law marriage. The moral of the story is not to rely on stuff you hear down the pub, or read on the internet [including this]. If you want advice, click here to arrange a consultation.

Intestacy Rules

Dependence on the laws of intestacy is unwise. Reliance on the rules of intestacy is foolish. The rules of intestacy don’t recognise the contribution you’ve made to your joint household. You’ve invested blood, sweat, tears and cash into making your home – intestacy laws don’t care. Say what you will about the law being out of touch, we deal with life and the law as they are not as we’d like them to be.

Without a will, if your partner died, you’d be entitled to nothing from his or her estate. Without a will, you’d get zero.

Your partner’s assets would go to his or her ‘family’. Doesn’t that sound cruel? At best you’d have to rely on their goodwill. You’d be asking them to give up their entitlement to your partner’s estate. Seriously? Do you want to rely on their charity? That’s one effect of the rules of intestacy. To my way of thinking, that’s positively wicked.

Your partner’s family hold on to the assets. They assert their right to your late partner’s estate. Then what? You’ll petition the courts, asking for a ‘fair share’ of your partner’s estate.

Really. Is that what you’d want: long, expensive, unpredictable court cases. And, there’s the ill will such litigation would cause.

You and your partner can control how both your assets are distributed. Even in a ‘common law marriage’.  You have the power. Don’t give that control away. Don’t give it to the state. Urge your partner not to leave you at the mercy of his family or worse, an arbitrator, mediator or a judge.

I offer a no obligation consultation. Simply click here to arrange a free chat.

What to Read Next: Inheritance Tax & The Married Woman

Tags: , , , , ,