No, quite simply

Unmarried couples who live together for just two years will be automatically entitled to half their partner\’s estate if they die without a will, under proposals from the Government\’s law advisers.

There have been a number of attempts at doing something like this is recent years. Change the rules so that those who cohabit have the same rights to alimoney, financial assets, here it\’s inheritances, as those who do not marry.

Essentially there\’s those within the law (for thee proposals all seem to come from various committees of lawyers) who disagree with the fact that England does not have common law marriage (umm, 1752 we got rid of it, didn\’t we?).

The thing is, there\’s a solution easily to hand. Marriage. Or in this particular case, one even simpler. Write a will.

At the moment people have choices: share a bed and a house but do not intertwine your finances: marry, write a will, draw up a contract and share your bed and house and your finances. Up to you which you choose.

The lawyers would take that choice away from you.

The mere (and these days it is indeed mere) fact that you have been bonking the same person for two years would give them the right to half your assets.

It\’s difficult to escape the idea that there\’s still a lot of puritans around: you shouldn\’t be having sex without paying for it in some manner.

13 comments on “No, quite simply

  1. But surely this proposal would just change the default position rather than the range of choices. There would be nothing to stop you making a will that left all your worldy goods to the cats’ home and nothing to the person you’d been bonking for 2 years.

  2. Dying intestate requires a default set of rules to apply (by definition). They need to be drawn up with a sense of justice, which in olden days was that an unmarried (and hence not cohabiting) person’s estate went to the family. Nowadays those assumptions aren’t true.

    This is a very different situation to the proposals for default ‘divorce’ rights for cohabiting couples, where the people are still living and are very able to express their wishes (which might conflict).

  3. “there’s still a lot of puritans around: you shouldn’t be having sex without paying for it in some manner.”

    Yet they are always moaning about prostitution!

    I remember blogging about this subject back in May 2006 when the Law Commission came up with the proposal. They are essentially proposing forced marriages.

  4. Once the state became an interested party in family law the rules were ruthlessly changed to favour the state at the expense of the man, which is why blokes don’t want to get married in the first place. It’s a contract that is only legally binding on the husband. So we get this “let your girlfriend keep a clean pair of knickers at your house and hey presto it’s her house” nonsense.

  5. There are a lot of issues surrounding marriage today. The most important is that marriage is between only a man and a woman.

    As for me, I think that there should be more marriage friendly laws to make it easier for people to be married instead of just shacking up — it took decades for Congress to stop penalizing people who got married by taxing them more through the marriage tax/shack-up bonus, whichever way you want to look at it.

    At least now there are more people who are aware that the government often makes it HARDER on people who want to be married but just happen to see a large cost associated with it.

    Marriage as an institution between one man and one woman should be encouraged, not discouraged by tax laws and other attacks such as “civil union” marriages that bring marriage to a low level.

  6. “I remember blogging about this subject back in May 2006 when the Law Commission came up with the proposal.”

    You’re confusing intestate laws with pseudo-divorce proposals. As is everyone else.

    Sheesh. Don’t people read any more?

  7. “So we get this “let your girlfriend keep a clean pair of knickers at your house and hey presto it’s her house” nonsense.”

    I think you’ll find it’s more like “she’s been living with you for ten years and you died and now she’s being turfed out of the house because your half has been shared amongst your relatives”.

    In any case, which is the greater injustice? There has to be some default for dealing with the estate after death. Would you prefer that it be burned on a longboat?

  8. “You’re confusing intestate laws with pseudo-divorce proposals. As is everyone else.”

    Yes but it’s still about forcing marriage like obligations on people who haven’t agreed to it.

  9. Mark,
    //Since its founding in 1981, Public Advocate has grown into a dedicated group of young conservatives in Washington, D.C., with a network of volunteers and supporters nationwide. Our continuous growth over the years is due to the fact that we have never wavered from our firm conviction that political decisions should begin and end with the best interests of American families and communities in mind. //

    Hmmm, sounds like a pretty usual authoritarian, collectivist organisation. What about the American individual? Why must they be coerced and threatened into conforming to your ideology?

    //Public Advocate offers strong and vocal opposition to those who actively support:
    The mainstream media’s promotion and glorification of drug abuse, teenage sex, gangs, atheism, homosexuality and other immoral behavior and beliefs//

    So, you do not really believe in free speech either? Brilliant. You are quite disgustingly authoritarian, aren’t you?

  10. Yes but it’s still about forcing marriage like obligations on people who haven’t agreed to it.

    No it’s not. It’s changing the default situation to be more just.

    The current laws give rights to parents over the wealth of their offspring who haven’t agreed to it. So? Some kind of default has to exist. Better to pick a more just one.

    I should also point out that marriage isn’t a solution at present: if someone dies intestate, only half the estate goes to the spouse. How many readers of this blog are married, don’t have a will and didn’t know that?

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