Marriage isn’t for everyone, and today more people than ever choose to cohabit instead. However, despite the number of cohabiting couples in the UK increasing rapidly over the last twenty years, there is still a widespread misunderstanding of the lack of legal and financial rights that these relationships confer.

The common law marriage myth

Worryingly, surveys carried out by the National Centre for Social Research shows that 46% of cohabiting couples believe that common law marriage exists, but in fact it does not. Worse still, amongst co-habiting couples with children, 55% wrongly believed that their relationship gave them legal rights.

For the estimated 3.3 million couples who live together who aren’t married or in civil partnerships, this could pose a major problem if one of them were to die. If you are in a long-term relationship but not husband and wife or civil partners, you need to plan your financial affairs more carefully than those who are married or in a civil partnership, to ensure your family is properly protected.

It’s important to be aware that if one of you dies and doesn’t leave a Will, under the laws of intestacy, an unmarried partner is entitled to jointly owned assets only. If the couple have children, the estate of the deceased will pass to them when they are 18. If there are no children, the estate will pass to the deceaseds closest relatives, for example parents, brothers and sisters, but never to the surviving partner.

This makes it absolutely vital that unmarried couples make Wills. A Will ensures that your property passes to those you wish to benefit on your death.

Your family’s future

Life insurance has a major role to play in protecting the finances of cohabiting couples. With those who live together having fewer rights than those who are married or in a civil partnership, it makes sense to work out how much cash your family would need if they could no longer rely on your financial support.

Taking out a life insurance policy is a good way to protect them and ensure that in the event of your death there would be funds available to provide for their financial needs, helping them maintain the lifestyle they enjoyed whilst you were there to provide for them. Raising a child is expensive. Recent research has shown that it can cost £102,627 for a single parent or guardian to raise a child to age 18.

A pay out from a policy could help in a variety of ways, including paying off a mortgage, clearing debts including credit cards, as well as covering your family’s household bills.

Life insurance can provide a valuable safety net for families, so if you’d like to know more about how it could protect your family, do get in touch 

As with all insurance policies, conditions and exclusions will apply