The Sunday Times money section always carries something useful. That's the way I learn to manage my financial affairs. Last Sunday's edition (12 August) contains an article entitled "Can you afford not to get married?"
It seems that a lot of unmarried couples with children assume that they get the same treatment as married couples if one partner dies. Not so, says the article.
Emotional attachment aside, the richer partner benefits by being unmarried. The converse is also true.
Here is my summary of this article - which applies only in Great Britain.
15 August 2001
Summary of another article in the same issue:
what happens if you die without a will?
If you are married:
your spouse gets everything if your estate is worth less than £125K
anything above that is split between your spouse and children (if you have any).
if you don't have children, your spouse gets the first £200K. The rest is shared between your spouse and your parents.
If your parents are no longer living, the rest is shared between your spouse and your siblings.
If you don't have any children, brothers, sisters, or parents, then your spouse gets everything.
If you are not married:
your estate goes to your next of kin (who may be your children, parents, or siblings) - not the person who lives with you, no matter how committed, how close, how dependent, and how long you've lived together.
Inheritance tax is levied at a flat rate of 40% on estates worth over £242K including value of your home - but doesn't have to be paid on assets passed to your spouse.
You can make gifts of up to £3K a year to avoid inheritance tax.