The Taylor&Emmet Blog

WILLPOWER: Cohabiting without a will – Why your property could be at risk…

If you cohabit and don’t have a will, your property could be at risk if one of you dies. 

Our wills and probate experts answer your questions about making or reviewing a will. If you have a query you would like them to address, email

I’ve owned a property with my partner for ten years. If I die first, will it automatically pass to her?

It is a common assumption that wills are only necessary if you are wealthy or have complex affairs, but this is simply not the case. They are essential to ensure property and other assets go to those you wish to benefit.

By making a will, you can set out where you want your possessions to go and if you have children with your partner, at what age they can control their own finances. If they are very young, you can also nominate guardians and trustees to administer their inheritance.

What will happen to my property if I don’t make a will?

Without a will, you are deemed to die intestate and the government will decide who inherits your assets.

Your property and savings will pass to your next of kin, who is determined by the law. In the first instance, this would be a spouse, if there is one (even if you are separated), or your children. If they are under the age of 18, their inheritance will be tied up until they become adults.

If you have no spouse or children, your parents will benefit and so on. Your partner will have no legal right to inherit from you. It is possible for her to make a claim on your estate, but this is likely to involve lengthy and costly litigation that can be avoided by making a will.

Our home is in joint names – does this make a difference?

If you both own the property you live in, it will pass automatically to your partner, provided you are ‘joint tenants’. This is the most common method of buying a house with another individual.

It is possible, however, to be ‘tenants in common,’ which means you both have a share (it doesn’t have to be equal) of the equity. If one of you dies, your share is passed through your estate to your next of kin.

If you are uncertain about how the ownership of your home is structured, it is advisable to contact a solicitor, as you could be leaving your partner’s stake vulnerable if you do not make a will.

Making a will is simple and not as expensive as most people think. Why not book a free 30-minute consultation with one of our probate specialists to find out more? Telephone (0114) 218 4000 or email:


Taylor&Emmet LLP is one of the leading and most successful law firms in the South Yorkshire region, a position it has held for nearly 150 years. This success has been achieved by delivering the highest quality legal advice to business and private clients, many of whom have remained with the firm for generations.

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