Cohabiting couples are couples that live together without being married or in a civil partnership and therefore do not have the same legal rights as married couples. If you are considering moving in with your partner, it may be worth entering into a Cohabitation Agreement to ensure that you are both protected.
What is a Cohabitation Agreement?
A Cohabitation Agreement is a legally binding and enforceable document that can set out each individual’s financial responsibilities and how assets should be divided in the future, should you ever separate. This document can include how a number of matters should be dealt with upon separation including bank accounts, property, assets, pension and pets. This document can help provide a clearer understanding of commitments and avoid difficulties later on if you were to separate.
There are a number of ways that couples can share a property together and each must be dealt with in a different way. A Cohabitation Agreement can help set out how this property is to be dealt with should you separate for example, you could look to sell the property. This can also set out how much each individual pays towards the mortgage, bills, upkeep, decoration etc.
Owning a property together – Joint Tenants
If a property is held jointly as joint tenants, half of the property will automatically transfer to the joint owner upon death. You cannot leave half of the property in your Will.
Owning a share of a property – Tenants in Common
Tenants in Common is where you own a share of the property, this usually reflects if one person pays more towards the deposit or mortgage. If you split up, you will be entitled to your share of the property and if your partner passes away, you will not automatically inherit their share.
It is also advisable to enter into a Declaration of Trust when you are purchasing a property as Tenants in Common. This makes it clear how the property should be divided upon disposal.
What if I move into my partner’s property?
If you do not own the property, you will not have any rights to the property, this also means that if you separate, you have no right to continue living at the property. A Cohabitation Agreement however could note if you were to make ant financial contributions to the property.
If you decide to welcome a fur-baby into the family, the Cohabitation Agreement can set out who is to pay what towards finances for your pets and in the event that you separate, you can decide which party the pets are to remain with.
Your assets will not automatically pass over in the event of separation and therefore provisions can be made in the Agreement to determine how you wish for assets to be split for example furniture or monies in a joint account.
Unless you and your partner have made a written agreement, you will not be your partner’s next of kin so you will not automatically have the right to know about their condition should they be in hospital. Further, on the event of death, you will not have the right to make any arrangements.
If you wish to leave any assets or gifts to your partner upon your death, then you must ensure that you make a Will and include any gifts to your partner as these will not automatically be left to your partner as it would a married couple.
If you wish to make a Cohabitation Agreement, please contact our friendly Family Team on 01228 522215 (Carlisle)
Article written by Chloe Hewetson