An unmarried woman (particularly if she has children) is very vulnerable. Being unmarried is not the same as being married! Same sex couples are in the same quandary.
As a lawyer, I hear the worst but I care and some of my cases make me want to cry.
I shall give you an example.
A lady came to see me after man died whilst working. He made all the decisions. He was self-employed and earned a lot of money. She had 2 children to him. She was not married.
It turned out that he was a gambler. He did not have a Will. He was not insured. They did not own their home. He had no pension. He owed money.
From feeling secure with her man, suddenly, she had absolutely nothing. She was on the streets because she could not afford the rent and she went from being very happy to being destitute, not knowing what to do.
And the law could not help her.
Ever since then I have been telling ladies (even if they are not my clients, then quietly) to ensure that;-
1) he has a Will leaving everything to her;
2) he is insured so that she (and any children) have something to live on if he dies;
3) if there is a home that it is in joint names;
4) you are mentioned to the Pension trustees, if there is a pension and;
5) that, sooner rather than later, he marries her because the law does not treat unmarried ladies well.
People do not think about these things. When I was young I believed that love conquered all. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Perhaps it should but it doesn’t.
What is important?
If you are not married to him then, in law, you are almost a stranger. A married person has automatic rights. Assuming he has something and there is no will, you have to go to court to persuade the Sheriff to give you something. Whatever he or she gives you, it will not be the same as if you were married, that is for sure. You have to show that you were disadvantaged and he was advantaged and it is not easy.
If he has a will leaving everything to you then then your life will be much better. Whatever he has will come to you. Children also have rights and they can make claims but these are not necessarily huge. So make sure that he signs a will. Nobody wants to think about death but dying is something that everybody must face. Face it. Don’t mess about. Make sure he commits to you.
And, by the way, he can change it and not tell you.
Living has a cost. Having children has a cost. Everybody knows that they are horribly expensive. At the moment, generally, men earn more than women. Right or not, it’s true. Just imagine his income is not there. How would you live? If you are fit, plain insurance against death is cheap. It’s all the extras that make it expensive. Go to a consultant as your bank can only sell you their own insurance and that may well be expensive.
But get insurance. It doesn’t cost that much.
Who owns the house?
This is very important. If you are named as a co-owner, this is a major assurance for you. If you are named, you cannot have it taken away by him and money cannot be borrowed without your agreement.
With every pension there should be a letter of wishes to the pension trustees indicating that the girlfriend/cohabitee should be the beneficiary of any pension, if he is not there to collect it. This is often forgotten. Make sure that the pension trustees know of your existence because, otherwise, it is up to them. They may decide to give the pension to someone else or they may decide to give it to the children. Not being married is not the same as being married!
When I was younger, I totally believed Joni Mitchell, the singer, when she sang that “We don’t need a piece of paper from the City Hall keeping us tied and true”. You should listen to her album “Blue”.
Unfortunately, as a lawyer, I had all my beliefs tested. I also found out, later, that Joni Mitchell was dumped by her man. She had her child adopted. It was all very sad and enough to bring tears to your eyes.
The law believes in marriage. Whether you like it or not it’s a fact. Married women have very significantly more rights than unmarried women. I have already told you how bad it can be. I’m sure it would be nice to have a white wedding but that’s not necessary. Have a ceremony first in the registry office and you can have a wonderful wedding (calling it what you like) later.
Women who are married have automatic rights of inheritance, including the home and insurances. Pension trustees are persuaded by marriage certificates!
Love is a very splendid thing. I believe in love but, practically, more than that is required.
I don’t sell insurance or pensions but I can provide a Will. And instantly. And inexpensively. And easily.
Of course, I am a lawyer and I know what I’m doing.
Your confidence will be helped by the fact that I have been featured on BBC radio and television as well as STV.
Making a will is something that you can do without leaving home and instantly.
I recommend it!
Bruce de Wert