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By Hugh Logue, Newswatch Editor
The Law Commission has published its recommendations on reforming the law on intestacy and family provision claims on death, including a proposal that certain cohabitants should be entitled to inheritance rights without a will.
The report, published today, sets out and explains the Commission's recommendations for reform of the law and presents two draft Bills to implement the necessary changes.
The draft Inheritance and Trustees' Powers Bill includes reforms that would:
The draft Inheritance (Cohabitants) Bill contains further provisions that would give certain unmarried partners who have lived together for five years the right to inherit on each other's death under the intestacy rules. Where the couple have a child together, this entitlement would accrue after two years' cohabitation, provided the child was living with the couple when the deceased died.
Responding to the Law Commission's recommendations today, Resolution's Chair, David Allison, said: "The death of a partner is a painful enough experience, without becoming embroiled in disagreements about financial settlements during a time which should be spent mourning the loss of a loved one.
"We believe this news will come as a relief to the more than two million couples that currently live together, and we would urge the government to take this recommendation forward.
"There is a popular myth that the "common-law" spouse is afforded legal rights - this simply isn't the case. This doesn't mean cohabitants would have equal rights to married couples, but it does reflect the way that many people are choosing to live their lives, and it is important that the law recognises this."
"A large and important book that should be on the shelf of every family lawyer." Sir James Munby