Common Law Marriage Legal Problems

One of the most common areas creating a dispute of a Last Will is not having one at all!

Many people who think they have a valid Last Will may well have cancelled it by getting married, or the Will just may not be found when they die.  Reasons for that vary from accidental loss to deliberate destruction by a person who doesn’t like the contents!

But at least if a couple are legally married, the survivor will normally inherit.

Will Dispute: Common Law Marriage Rights of “Husband and Wife.”

With around half of the couples in the Eastbourne/ Polegate / Hailsham area being actually married to each other, the Law does not recognise common law marriage.  In effect, the Law treats you as two entirely separate individuals.  But legislation in 2014 has recognised that dependent relationships such as co-habitation mean that the person should be recognised in the Will, and can raise a dispute even if the Rules of intestacy apply because there is no valid Last Will.

Take the case where a common law “husband” dies leaving his partner and two young children, the partner would have to take action against her own children to be able to get any money from the estate!  If the husband had children from a previous relationship, this could be very difficult.

Worse still, if either party should lose the ability to make decisions through accident or illness, the Court of Protection does not generally recognise common law husbands or wives as being the “right” relative to put in charge.  This can mean that a professional deputy is appointed (perhaps Social Services) or perhaps another member of the family of the person whose “mental capacity” has been lost temporarily of permanently.  Think Michael Schumacher!

Common Law couples really must ensure their Legal Planning is comprehensive and up to date!  Why not call us for a free Legal Healthcheck?