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HLF Berry Warns Couples To Protect Rights As Co-habiting Soars In Popularity 04 February 2014

HLF Berry Solicitors is warning unmarried couples who live together that they should ensure that their rights are protected, as the government's newest data shows co-habiting numbers are the fastest growing family type.

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that in 2013, there were 1.2m million people cohabiting in the UK with dependent children and 1.8m people cohabiting without dependent children, and this group were the fastest growing family type.  HLF Berry Solicitors say: "Over the past 17 years, the UK has experienced a massive increase in the number of couples choosing to live together either before marriage or without feeling the need to ever get married, which can leave individuals vulnerable should their relationship break down for any reason.

"This is certainly something we've seen in the Manchester area, which is why we are so keen to warn people of the distress that co-habiting couples can experience when things go wrong, if measures have not been put in place. For example, property and asset division can be tricky if no Will or property agreement is in place, causing a great deal of stress and upset at an already difficult time.

"Unlike married couples, co-habiting couples' rights are not automatically protected in the event of a separation or death. Many people don't realise that living together brings very few rights with regard to property and assets, and that it is important to take steps in order to avoid property or inheritance disputes.

"We have experience of helping unmarried couples who want to live together, protect their rights from the outset. A separate or joint Will can stipulate where and to whom the assets should go on death, for example, and a so-called "living together agreement" can state exactly what each person is entitled to.

"While breaking up or losing a loved one will always be difficult and upsetting, we are urging co-habiting couples to avoid unnecessary distress by looking after their rights today. This way, dividing up the property and assets jointly owned by the couple should be straightforward, as should inheritance.

"Having a Will professionally written or drawing up agreements for property is not expensive, especially when you compare this cost to the possible financial implications of not putting anything in place."

"The number of unmarried couples living together is likely to continue to increase, so it is vital for those in the Manchester area to look after their future wishes and make sure legal agreements are in place and that their rights are protected should an unfortunate event occur."

For professional legal advice on protecting your rights as a co-habiting couple or to find out more about HLF Berry's range of Wills and property agreement services, you can contact the firm's specialist solicitors in the Chorlton office on 0161 860 7123 or Failsworth office on 0161 681 4005