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The Law Commission published a consultation paper in October 2009 discussing reforms to the intestacy rules and family provision on death. After over 150 responses and further supplementary consultations in 2011, the Law Commission’s final report was released on 14 December (Law Com No 311 - www.lawcom.gov.uk).
Perhaps the most notable of the recommendations relates to the rights of unmarried cohabiting couples in the event that one of them dies intestate. The Law Commission is recommending that unmarried couples who have cohabited for a period of five years or more, or if they have a child, cohabited for at least two years, should share in their deceased partner’s estate without having to make an application to the Court under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
This change, if implemented, would give unmarried couples similar rights to married couples when one partner dies without leaving a Will. It is suggested that this recommendation is necessary to “reflect the growing prevalence and public acceptance of cohabitation”, with over 2.3 million unmarried couples now living together in intimate relationships.
For further information about rights of cohabiting couples, please contact the family department on 020 7814 1200.
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