Moving in together is an exciting time, but apart from who will do the washing up and the ironing, have you considered what the legal position will be if the relationship does not last in the future?
Living together agreements
Unmarried couples do not have the same rights regarding property and assets as married couples so extra care is needed when deciding to share your life. We can draft an agreement for you which caters for your situation, this is known as a living together agreement.
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This will set out exactly what will happen in the event of relationship breakdown. For example, it can assist you in protecting a greater contribution you may have made to the purchase price of your home or running costs/improvements. It is important when purchasing a property jointly that you ensure that the legal transaction takes place in the way in which you both clearly understand. Living Together Agreements go hand in hand with property co-ownership agreements known as a Declarations of Trust. Our residential property team can help keep things simple when you are purchasing a property as they will do the hard work for you.
Property agreements (Declarations of Trust)
If you are buying a property jointly, but the purchase price is unequal or you intend to pay a repayment mortgage in differing shares, you ought to enter into a Declaration of Trust to protect your greater interest in the property.
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We can draft a Declaration of Trust that will protect your greater share in the property in the event of a dispute in the future. The absence of such a document when purchasing a property can mean that property law operates in a way that you did not envisage. Our residential property team can help you get this right at the outset to prevent stress and potentially costly litigation in the future. If anything changes over time, (for example if you contribute an additional lump sum to the property or spend a considerable amount in improving it), then the family team can draft a Declaration of Trust to reflect the new situation.
In addition in some circumstances one party may wish to move out of the property and the other take over payment of the mortgage when there is a joint mortgage in place. If the mortgage company will not let you do this, a Declaration of Trust can set out your wishes in the short term and prevent unfair claims on the property by the person that has moved out in the future.
You don’t have to be in a relationship, a Declaration of Trust and a Living Together Agreement are just as in important if you intend to purchase a property with family or friends.
It is essential that you have a Will in place because if you live with someone, regardless of whether you are married to each other or not, they will not automatically inherit your assets in the event of your death.
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If you die without leaving a valid Will in place, the Intestacy Rules apply which means that the people you wish to benefit from your assets do not do so because they are not entitled to them under the law. The Intestacy Rules may also result in complex trusts being set up for your family which can be costly to administer and contrary to your wishes.
The absence of a Will does not mean that your spouse or civil partner will inherit everything – they may not. To be certain and to ensure that your wishes are properly carried out, you must make a Will – our wills, probate & trusts team will be able to provide you with further advice on this.