Your Industry  

The myths that surround common law cohabitation

Ricky Chan, director and chartered financial planner at IFS Wealth and Pensions, confirms that if the deceased had any defined benefit pensions, these usually include a “dependant’s pension”.  

He adds: “But a cohabiting partner would not normally meet the definition of a ‘dependant’ under the scheme rules, although definitions do vary between schemes.”

Cohabitation rights bill 

Mr Chan recommends that advisers encourage clients to ensure their wills are drafted to reflect their wishes and ensure beneficiary forms are updated with the relevant pension providers. 

He adds: “Both married and cohabiting couples may wish to review existing life insurance to ensure that they’re either cross-owned by each other or placed into a trust so if the policy were to pay out, it would pay out to the surviving partner and in a timely manner.”

Parliament is currently considering a cohabitation rights bill, which aims to protect people who have lived as a couple and make a provision about the property for surviving cohabitees upon the death of a partner. 

The bill received a second reading in the House of Lords in March this year and is due to go through the committee stage, with no concrete date scheduled so far. 

Ms Saxe adds: “Hopefully the change in the law about civil partnerships (in that they are now available for straight couples as well as same-sex couples) signals that parliament is recognising the importance of these issues and the need for change, but Brexit may mean the bill is not given the attention it deserves for some time.”

Saloni Sardana is features writer at FTAdviser and Financial Adviser