While getting married is obviously primarily a romantic decision for most people, it’s also a practical consideration for couples who know that they’ll be together for quite some time. Marriage comes with multiple rights and benefits, from tax breaks to financial protection in the case that one of you passes away.
What about if you’re unmarried but live together? Cohabitation is more complicated than being married – there are some legal protections available, but you may need to arrange for them yourselves.
It’s well known that if you’re married, you’re often entitled to around half of the assets of your partner should you split up, including the property that you’ve both lived in. If you’re living together but you’re not married, things become a little more complicated.
In some cases, if the property is only owned by one party in the relationship, it can still be possible for the individual to claim that a trust has arisen and claim half of it should you break up. In general, it’s advisable for unmarried couples to draft a cohabitation agreement to avoid issues from arising in the future.
One of the main practical benefits of marriage is the reduction in tax that you’ll pay. It’s not a massive decrease, but it’s significant – often between around £500 – £1000 per year. Unmarried couples living together may choose to keep their finances separate, as there’s less of a financial incentive to combine them.
It’s important to be clear with your partner about how you’re arranging your finances, especially in the case that one individual is earning more than the other.
Should you choose to have children together as an unmarried couple, as is common nowadays, then you’ll also need to be aware of the implication it may have on your legal responsibilities. For example, unmarried fathers aren’t automatically named on the birth certificate (since 2003).
Both individuals will still be responsible for the child’s well-being, but it’s important to seek further confirmation on details such as whether the father will be named on the birth certificate. This can have an impact on future decisions when it comes to the child’s well-being.
Inheritance is another important issue for unmarried couples to consider. If you’re married, even if neither party has a will, should one of you die, the other will automatically the entire estate, generally tax-free.
If you are unmarried, then no such automatic transferral will occur. It’s important for unmarried couples to create wills and plan the distribution of the estate in the case of a death, to avoid any painful complications further down the line.
Marriage can simplify a lot of basic legal issues for partners who are living together. If you’re unmarried, there are still steps that you can take to ensure that you both maintain certain rights, but it’ll take a little work.
From wills to birth certificates, you need to make sure that you’re both on the ball with these matters, and make sure that you use any resources available to you.
Disclosure: This is a featured post.