See how changes to intestacy rules will benefit cohabitants

A new bill had its first reading in the House of Lords last week which could transform the rights of cohabitants under the intestacy rules.

The Inheritance (Cohabitants) Bill would allow a long term cohabitant to inherit from the estate of a deceased partner under the intestacy rules. The intestacy rules which apply in cases where there is no valid will, currently make no provision for cohabiting partners; a situation that frequently leads to hardship and family difficulties.

If the new bill passes into law it will no longer be necessary for a long term partner to bring a claim for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

This change is long overdue and if it is enacted, will finally mean that inheritance rules begin properly to reflect the way people actually live their lives.

However, the intestacy rules can never be an adequate substitute for making proper provision for loved ones in the way that making a will does. All couples in long term relationships need to address the issues concerning inheritance and should not be complacent about the difficulties that frequently follow the death of a partner without a will.