Living together

Living together

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Living together

Cohabitants and their families have significantly fewer rights and responsibilities than their counterparts who are married or who have formed a civil partnership. The problem is that many cohabitants only find this out when it is too late to do anything about it, such as when their relationship has broken down or when their partner has died.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a 'common law husband and wife'. No matter how long a couple have lived together, they will never acquire the same rights as a married couple or civil partners. In view of this, if you decide to live together with your partner, and not get married or enter into a civil partnership, you must seek to protect your legal interests.

Protecting your interests

By taking the following simple steps, you will reduce the legal and financial problems which may arise if you decide to separate or if one of you dies:

A cohabitation agreement

Create a cohabitation agreement to govern the day-to-day financial issues in your relationship, such as the payment of bills and ownership of assets. A cohabitation agreement can be particularly useful in settling disputes over the ownership of assets should your relationship come to an end, which helps to avoid lengthy litigation. For further information on cohabitation agreements, please see: Cohabitation agreements

A power of attorney

Create a power of attorney to ensure that that your partner is able to make decisions about your finances and/or personal welfare if you are unable to do so. You may become unable to manage your own affairs due to an illness, or the onset of a condition, such as dementia. In the absence of a power of attorney, your partner will not automatically be able to take control of your affairs. You must have a power of attorney in place, prior to you becoming unable to manage your own affairs, as you cannot create it after this has happened.

A Will

Create a Will to ensure that your partner is provided for in the event of your death. If you fail to provide for your partner in your will then he or she might not receive anything. Therefore, careful will planning is essential.

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