For 21st century couples, it’s not just hearts and flowers. They may take a pragmatic approach, considering ways to legally safeguard their positions in a way that their parents’ generation would not.

Cohabitation Agreement

A Cohabitation Agreement formalises financial arrangements when couples aren’t married and merely choose to live together. It protects assets and how they and any debts accumulated will be dealt with in the event of a future separation and breakdown of the relationship.

Declaration of Trust

This document defines each partner’s interests in a property and there are two variations to it. If you are co-owners and hold the property as tenants in common, then this document is known as ‘Shared Equity’ and it defines how the property owners would be entitled to share the net value of a property in the event of any sale or ownership change. If parents or other third parties are contributing to a property purchase then a ‘Beneficial Interest’ document is signed. This records the contribution of the third party and their beneficial interest in it.

Pre-Nuptial Agreement

This is similar to a Cohabitation Agreement, but deals with arrangements for property and finance prior to and where either marriage or a civil partnership is intended. It is not intended for those couples who merely plan on moving in together. Many couples don’t like to consider a ‘Pre-Nup’ as it is believed to pre-empt a possible break-up and turns a romantic occasion in to effectively a business deal. Others see it as a fact of life and a common sense safeguarding against things going wrong. A Pre-Nuptial Agreement defines who owns what and confirms how these assets will be dealt with, in the event of a relationship breakdown.

Statutory Declaration of Name Change

Adopting your spouse’s name upon marriage or a civil partnership is quite straightforward, but if a different variation of name is needed then you need to complete a statutory declaration of name change document. This is sufficient evidence for passport offices and banks that you have formally changed your name, but it must be signed by a solicitor to be valid.

Parental Responsibility Agreement

It is common for parents of a child not to be married, and also for the father of a child not to appear on the child’s birth certificate. However, if you are happily living together but do not want to change the birth registration, the father can still gain formal parental responsibility for his child by entering into and completing a Parental Responsibility Agreement with the child’s mother. This means that the father would then be legally recognised and have to be involved in all decision-making and general discussions regarding the wellbeing of the child.

Making a Will

People often decide to make a Will when they get married or when they are committed to somebody in a cohabitation arrangement. A Will secures the future interests of loved ones by specifying how your estate should be distributed in the event of your death. This can include money, property, possessions, appointing a guardian for children and your funeral wishes. If you are not married then making a Will is particularly important, because otherwise the law will not necessarily distribute your estate to your loved ones, as other members of your family may have a greater legal entitlement.

Ison Harrison have experienced solicitors who can advise on all the above documents, your legal status in all types of relationship and what arrangements are best suited to your individual circumstances.

Contact us today on 0113 284 5117 and speak to one of our friendly experts.

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