Co-habiting couple with children

In her fifties, the client knew that she needed a will. She had not had one before although had tried on two previous occasions to put one in place but the first time she had found it too painful an experience due to haunting memories of her mother’s death when she was fairly young, and the second time she backed away from the process as the will writer had been too pushy.

I took my time with her given her previous experience, but she was adamant that she needed to complete the process this time and I was so pleased that she had chosen me to help her because I was determined to get her across the line. 

She was not married but was in a long-term partnership with the father of her two teenage children. She encouraged her partner to make a mirror will so that their arrangements were all “tidied up”. It was important to them both that the surviving partner would have the jointly owned family home for as long as was needed but that their children were not at risk of disinheritance of their respective share in the house as a result of future relationships. I advised them to separate the joint title of their home so that each owned half as Tenant In Common, and add a Property Protection Trust to their mirror wills, giving their partner a life interest in the house with the children as ultimate beneficiaries on second death. The client also had a buy to let property that was solely owned, which she left to her children on her death as a specific legacy.

In this case, the fact that they were not married was not a significant issue because their estate was covered by a single Nil Rate Band and Residence Nil Rate Band, but if their estate had been in excess of these a different type of trust, called a Nil Rate Band trust, could have been used to ensure that both of their Nil Rate Bands could be used to mitigate any inheritance tax on the estate.