Are you planning to move in with your partner this year? If so, it is important to be aware of certain legal consequences which can arise for couples who live together and we have prepared a useful checklist to assist in such circumstances.

1. Property

Consider how any financial contributions to a property will be protected.

Whether you're moving into a property that one of you already owns or buying a new property together you should consider how any money you each invest will be protected if you were to separate or if one of you were to die. The rights of cohabitants in relation to property are very limited compared to married couples or civil partners.

Your contributions can be reflected in how the title to the property is held. If you are contributing equally to the purchase of a property, then you might want to reflect this by putting the title to the property in joint names. Alternatively, it might be helpful to put a cohabitation agreement in place which protects your respective contributions.

2. Savings and investments

Think about whose name any saving accounts are held in. Unlike married couples, you and your partner do not have any automatic rights to share in each other's savings or investments in the event that you separate or die. So, if your partner is saving for a rainy day while you cover the day to day living costs your partner would be entitled to retain any savings held in their sole name if you then separate. A cohabitation agreement can cover how this type of issue should be addressed if you separate.

3. Cohabitation agreement

Consider putting in place a cohabitation agreement. A cohabitation agreement can provide certainty by detailing how your shared assets will be divided in the event of separation. It can also ringfence financial contributions and can be tailored to your individual circumstances.

4. Pensions/Death in Service Benefits

Review your nomination forms. You do not have automatic rights to your partner's pensions or death in service benefits unless your partner has specifically named you as a beneficiary.

5. Wills

Review your will. Unlike spouses, civil partners and children, your cohabiting partner has no automatic right to benefit from your estate. Where there is no will, a cohabitant has a right to make a claim on their deceased cohabitant's estate within six months from the date of death. It is important to ensure that you have an up to date will which clearly states who should benefit from your share of any property and any savings or other assets you own.

6. Powers of attorney

Put in place a power of attorney. A power of attorney allows your appointed attorney(s) to look after your finances (such as accessing your bank accounts) and to make decisions about your welfare (such as what medical treatment you receive). It's important that you're clear about who you want to make these decisions if you weren’t able to.

If you are interested discussing any of the points included on our checklist in more detail, please contact any members of the Personal and Family team who would be happy to assist you.


Christy Foster

Senior Solicitor

Gillian Grant