Should my terminally ill partner make a Will?

By Juliet Phillips-James, Director, Gomer Williams (as featured in the Llanelli Star)

Q: I am living with my partner of 15 years and he has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. We own a house together jointly, but other than that all our assets are separate. We both have life insurance policies which we put in place to pay off the mortgage if one of us died. The policies, I am told, have not been assigned into our respective names and the insurance company has informed me to make a will. I have tentatively raised this with my partner but he was not receptive about the idea. What will happen if he does not make a will as I am extremely concerned I will lose my home as well as my partner?

A: It is a difficult time for you both coming to terms with your partner's illness, and it may be he just needs time to come around to the thought of sorting his affairs out.
It is important he makes a will, leaving the proceeds of the life policy to you, as without one he will be deemed to have died intestate and the proceeds will go automatically to his next of kin under the rules of intestacy.
Alternatively, you could contact the insurance company in order to assign the policy into your name as beneficiary, this would then pass automatically to you on death.
You should also check to see how you hold your property. While you say jointly, there are two different ways you can jointly own a property — tenants-in-common and joint tenants.
As joint tenants, his interest in the house will automatically pass to you. However, as tenants-in- common his share will pass to his next of kin without a will. Therefore I would urge you to take up this issue with a solicitor in order that it can be checked. As a cohabitee of more than two years, you would be able to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. However, this I would hope would be a measure of last resort.
I think a further discussion with your partner about this issue and your concerns is needed. Perhaps if he appreciates the financial problems that could result from not making a will, it may make him more receptive to the idea.

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