The idea that a person could marry a deceased individual is interesting. Few nations allow such a practice, and it is mostly reserved for individuals who intended to marry, but death happened before the marriage was to take place.

Posthumous Marriage: Rare Circumstances

This marriage after death take place as the exception to the rule- they don’t happen often. Furthermore, Article 171 of the French Civil Code states (in layman’s terms) that such a marriage would not grant benefits to the survivor, nor do they consider a marriage to have existed between the spouses.

Although England and Wales do not have an equivalent practice, and French law is entirely different, this is a good time to talk about what occurs when half of a couple who is not wed dies, and no will was left behind.

Common-Law Misconceptions

There is no such thing as a common-law marriage. Unmarried partners are recognized to an extent, such as legislation purposes, but in terms of death and inheritance, the surviving partner is left with no provision in some cases.

Let us now examine the differences between married and unmarried couples and wills.

Couples Not Married

If the will is valid, and assets are left to the partner, nothing more needs to be done, and they will inherit the assets.

However, the survivor will be forced to pay tax at the rate of 40% on assets in excess of £325,000.

If the unmarried partner dies and no valid will is left, the partner will inherit no property unless it was owned jointly. The deceased partner’s estate will use intestacy rules to determine who shall benefit.

Under current law, a surviving spouse will get all personal items and the first £250,000 of that estate, and then the children in a 50/50 split.

Should no children be in the picture, the whole estate goes to the spouse. The priority order is as follows: spouse/civil partner, child(ren), parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts/uncles.

Couples Who Are Married

If there is a valid will, and a provision for the spouse exists in the will, they will inherit according to the will’s terms. There will also be no tax on the inheritance.

Should one spouse die and leave no will, the other shall inherit all or some of the estate as per intestacy.

People of civil partnerships are treated the same as married people when it comes to inheritance and death.

Importance of a Will

From these examples, we can see why making a will matters.

You should speak with your solicitor about the creation of a will that works for you and your specific situation.

The loss of a partner/spouse is a saddening and challenging experience in and of itself but having no provisions to help you live life with all basic needs met would make it twice as hard on yourself and any dependents. Take some time today for a safer tomorrow.