A case was decided yesterday showing the importance of making sure our affairs are in order be the time we die.
In a case reported yesterday Mr Martin had separated from his wife and moved in with his partner Mrs Williams. They bought a house together as Tenants in Common. As a result, 18 years later when Mr Martin died, his share of the house passed to his wife as he had not written a will.
The Judge held that although there is no such thing as common law husband and wife, it was clear that Mr Martin was in a committed relationship with Mrs Williams and that as a result she should retain the house absolutely. The judge emphasised the need for cohabitation agreements and a rethink on the law relating to cohabitation, which is currently complex.
This case is a stark reminder of the need to divorce when a marriage ends to dismiss claims an ex-spouse may have against your assets (and income), as well as the clear benefits of writing a will and thinking carefully about how property owners are legally registered, which could have saved this case coming to court.
The judge said Mrs Martin's case was that "she and the deceased, in substance, remained in a committed relationship as husband and wife and that the deceased was in effect maintaining two separate households