Call for changes over unwed partners of those without will

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THE unmarried partner of someone who dies without a will should inherit their estate without going to court if they have lived together for at least five years, legal experts have said.

The Law Commission, which reviews and recommends reform of the law in England and Wales, said it should be cut to two years if the unmarried couple had children.

Its report on inheritance law also said spouses should inherit the whole estate if the partner dies without a will and there are no children. Currently, spouses are entitled to the first £250,000 and personal possessions but where more is left, they may have to share with children, siblings or parents.

The commission also called for the law to be simplified to help the bereaved deal with the property of a deceased family member, and said children who lose a parent should not be at risk of losing their inheritance if they are adopted.

Professor Elizabeth Cooke, who led the project, said: “It is important to have clear, modern and fair rules for dealing with the property of a person who has died.”