‘Turkish Will’ Saves Unmarried Partner From Homelessness

Unmarried couples with no will are at risk of losing everything when their partner dies. Sue Singer was saved from homelessness by a will on a scrap of paper.

The traditional family unit has evolved over the last decade and there has been a 33% rise in unmarried couples who choose to live together as a family. Unfortunately, the law has yet to catch up with this shift in family dynamic. Currently the rules of intestacy state that only married and civil partners or close relatives such as children are able to inherit assets when someone dies.

Rights For Cohabiting Couples

The Cohabitation Rights Bill is designed to protect the partners of those who have lived together following one of their deaths. However, the bill is unlikely to be passed until 2017 at the earliest.

Until then, couples are being urged to understand that they have no rights to acquire any assets when their partner dies, unless a legal will has been created.

Makeshift Will Saves Unmarried Partner

No-one understands the situation for unmarried partners better than web designer Sue Singer, 56. She was in a relationship with her partner Paul Dixon for 16 years before his untimely death from lung cancer a decade ago. Although he had drafted his personal wishes with an accountancy firm, the final copy hadn’t been signed when Dixon sadly passed away.

Singer was to be left with nothing. Their shared home as well as their business was worth around £400,000 but they had all been in her partner’s name.

Singer recollected a chance event that had happened a few months earlier on holiday in Turkey before her partner’s cancer diagnosis. Dixon had wanted to go paragliding, but Singer made him promise to draft up a will before his adventure. Sitting over lunch, Dixon jotted down a makeshift will on a scrap of paper and persuaded two waiters to witness and sign the document. Later this became known as the ‘Turkish Will’.

When Sue Singer remembered the document, she had it examined and found that it was not actually legal because it did not contain either of the partners full names or address. Singer had to do some detective work to track down the original waiters in Ölüdeniz who had witnessed the will. At Singer’s expense they agreed to fly to Istanbul to visit a notary who would complete the missing sentence in the will draft. This process made the will official so that Singer could inherit Dixon’s assets through probate which saved her from becoming homeless.

Importance Of Wills For Unmarried Couples

Unmarried couples are urged to have an official will written up to save them from being in this impossible situation. Many couples that haven’t tied the knot will end up seeing their partner’s estate being divided up amongst family members or even being inherited by the government without the existence of a will.

It is easy to have a will drafted. Couples can either use a firm of solicitors or use a will writing service. You will be asked to appoint an executor of the will to carry out your wishes after you die. Executors should always take out appropriate insurance to protect themselves from legal disputes that may arise if family members feel that the will has not been executed as the deceased would have desired. This is particularly important in the case of unmarried couples.

Wills provide peace of mind that your loved ones will be protected in the event of your death. Start the process of writing your will today.

Peter Collins is a director at LFC Risk and Insurance, who provide individuals and businesses with insurance and risk management advice.