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What’s the difference? Marriage, civil partnership and living together

Posted on Monday, 15th July 2013 by

Photo Credit: Luz Adriana Villa A. via Compfight cc

Living together – Generally referred to as people living together as a couple but who are not married or in a civil partnership, although here is no legal definition.

Marriage – A couple can be married religiously or civilly, however in some cases a religious marriage alone may not be valid.

Civil Partnership – A legal relationship registered by two people of the same sex who are unrelated to each other.


When it comes to banking, your relationship status affects who has access to the money held in bank accounts especially upon the death of one partner.


If the money is help in a joint account, both partners have equal access to the money regardless of who is paying into the account. This is the case for couples living together, who are married and in a civil partnership. In civil partnerships and marriages upon the death of one partner the whole account becomes the property of the other partner including any debts or overdrafts regardless of who incurred them. If the couple is living together the other partner will continue to have unlimited access to the balance, however a proportion of this account will be taken into consideration when valuing the estate of the deceased partner.


If partners who live together instead have separate bank accounts neither partner has access to the others money and if one partner dies, the remaining balance in the property of their estate and cannot be used until the estate has been settled. If the couple are married or in a civil partnership then the other partner may be able to withdraw a small amount from the deceased partner’s account although the bank may need proof of death and of the relationship.



When a partner dies the entitlement to the deceased partner’s estate will also be dependant upon the couple’s relationship status and whether a provision has been made for the partner in the will.


If the partner dies without leaving a will in couples who are married or in a civil partnership, the other partner will still inherit part or all of the estate and will be exempt from paying inheritance tax. However, for couple who are living together whole or part of the estate will not automatically be inherited unless the property was jointly owned.

Faye Remnant is part of our Family Law team based in Loughborough; our Solicitors in Loughborough are experts in their fields and dedicated to quality client care. If you would like to find out more about our solicitors in Loughborough please contact us.

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The information provided in all of our blogs reflects only a narrative of some elements to consider on the topic. The blogs do not contain considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Please see our website terms and conditions for full details of our disclaimer. If you are interested in obtaining advice, please contact one of our lawyers who will be happy and able to advise you on your own particular circumstances.

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