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.