15 February 2023

When you are in a loving relationship, it may be impossible to conceive of a world in which you and your partner are not together. There may, however, come a time when the bond between you breaks down. Most people know about the importance of making a Will and of keeping it updated but what other issues do you need to consider?


Many couples own their property together. It may well have a joint mortgage.

Perhaps they have contributed different amounts to the deposit for the property or made unequal contributions to the mortgage.

Uncertainty can be avoided if a document is prepared at the time of purchase to record what the ownership shares are, but that step is not always taken.

Untangling the question of ownership of the property and sorting out who owns the equity, i.e. the free part of the property which is not taken up by the mortgage, needs to be done.

Life Assurance

You may have life assurance, particularly if you are paying a mortgage or if you have small children.

When the mortgage company pays out on the death of the insured, the money does not generally go into that person’s deceased estate and it is not normally governed by their Will.

Instead, the insured person will have signed a document telling the life assurance company to whom they should pay the money.

Do you need to update that document? You will not want to create a situation in which, if you die, the money goes to a partner you had 20 years ago.

Your Pension

There are basically two types of pension: a defined benefit scheme whereby your employer agrees to pay to you a pension of a certain size; and a money purchase scheme where you create a nest-egg which you use, as you run up to retirement, to organise your own pension.

With the former type of scheme, where your employer agrees to make regular payments to you during your lifetime, there is no sum of money which needs to be paid out if you die.

With the second type of scheme, however, there may well be a nest-egg which needs to be paid out to someone.

As with life assurance, that pot of money will not generally go into your deceased estate or be governed by your Will. Instead, you will have signed a document, held by the pension company, nominating who is to receive that money. The pension company generally have discretion as to whom to pay but will take this nomination into account.

You will need to update that document since you will not want the pension company to pay the fund to someone you may have fallen out of love with years before your death. This also ensures that the pension company do not detect a conflict between whom you have nominated and whom they think they should pay. That document must be updated as your family situation develops and changes.

For more information on our mediation services or dispute resolution services contact Peter Livingstone on 01935 846235 or email