There was a story in the local news last week that had quite an effect on me. A local bin man called Kane Beard, lost his life when he was killed by the bin lorry that he was working with. He was only 22 years old. This sort of story is always sad, when someone young dies in tragic circumstances, when they have barely started their life, but this one was a little too close to home, as my partner is also a refuse collector.
Up until this week I never really considered how dangerous his job could be, and I have certainly never expected that when I say goodbye to him in the morning, that it could be the last time that I see him. I am sure that Kane’s family felt much the same way. No one expects to head out to work and not go home that day, especially when you are only 22 years of age.
I expect that Kane never thought that day would be his last, and so probably never thought about writing a will. After all, why would you? At 22, you would have everything to live for. I’m sure my partner is the same when he closes our front door and heads out to work. Since this story broke, it made me question what would happen to me if my partner died.
My partner and I have been together for just over four years, we are engaged but not yet married. We do not have any children nor do we own any property together. The house that we live in is owned jointly by my partner and his ex partner. There is a mortgage on the house that is in both their names.
What would happen to me if my partner died – without making a will?
If my partner died without making a will, then the government will decide what happens, as he would have died intestate – leaving no written instructions behind. As his house is jointly owned, it would pass straight to his ex partner, meaning she would own 100% of the house. I would have no legal right to live there and would have to move out.
As we are not married and don’t have any children, the rest of his estate would go to his next of kin, in this case – his parents. This will include all of his possessions as well as his bank accounts and any insurances he has.
All of the household bills are in his name as he owned it before we met, so when I pay my half, that goes into his account. When his bank accounts pass to his parents, that means my money goes as well.
In answer to my question, “what would happen to me if my partner died without making a will?”, I would be left homeless, with only the money I have left after paying my bills, while suffering the greatest loss I could ever imagine. His parents would be arranging his funeral and without anything in writing I would just have to hope that they would allow me to be a part of it.
So what can we do?
As the house is jointly owned, it would not be possible for him to leave his half to me, unless he severs the tenancy. This would mean that both my partner and his ex partner would each own 50% of the house and would be able to leave their half to who they wanted. It would also be possible for my partner to put a “right to occupy” clause in his Will, allowing me to remain in our home after he has passed away. Without getting his life insurance money though I would have no way to pay off the mortgage and would end up homeless anyway.
When writing his Will, my partner could decide who he wants to leave the rest of his stuff to, for example, he could choose to leave 50% to me and the other 50% to his parents or he could share it between his brothers and sisters. He could also choose to leave certain things as direct gifts, like his Marvel collection to his best friend who shares his interest.
Writing his Will would also allow him to plan his own funeral and not to have to hope that other people make the “right” choices for him.
By writing his Will my partner can be sure that I would be looked after in the event of his death. It can also be written in view of our upcoming wedding – as we are already engaged – so that our marriage would not cancel his Will.
Luckily for me, my partner knows the risks of not writing his will, because as unmarried partners we would not inherit from anything from each other. Having something in place will not mean that his passing would not affect me, as that is something I can’t really bear to think about. It would still be a devastating time, and I’m not sure how I would cope if I were to be in the position that Kane’s family have found themselves.
However, knowing that he has protected me, means there are many things I would not have to worry about if the worst were to happen. Should one day, he not return home from work, I know I will at least be able to spend time grieving for him, rather than having to worry about moving out and finding somewhere else to live and all the other worries that dying intestate brings.
If you are worried about what would happen to you or your partner should one of you pass away, or have ever asked yourself “what would happen to me if my partner died?” get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you to protect each other and your future.