Unmarried woman wins right to claim her late long-term partner’s pension in landmark case that could affect millions of cohabiting couples
- Denise Brewster and her partner had lived together for ten years and owned their own home
- One in six families in the UK are cohabiting families
- Ruling could have implications for other situations where cohabiting couples are treated differently from those who are married
WHAT WILL THE RULING MEAN FOR COHABITING COUPLES?
The myth of the ‘common-law marriage’ still pervades, but in reality cohabiting couples have few of the rights of their married counterparts.
For example, should one partner die, the other has no automatic right to inherit from them, even if they have been together for years.
Similarly, if one partner dies, the other is not eligible for any bereavement benefits as they would be if they were married.
This applies even if the unmarried couple have children together.
Today’s Supreme Court decision bestowed on Denise Brewster the same right to claim a ‘survivor’s pension’ as she would have done had she been married to her partner Lenny McMullan.
It’s seen as a landmark case because it could set precedent for future situations where a distinction is made between married and unmarried couples.
It remains to be seen how this will play out in reality, but the decision is bound to be used in future cases to strengthen the rights of unmarried couples, particularly in the case of pensions.
Jenny Lewis, Principal Associate, Gowling WLG, says: ‘The requirement for formal nomination of a co-habiting partner has already been removed for the Local Government Pension Scheme in England, Wales and Scotland. Here administering authorities are required to be satisfied that certain conditions are met.
‘Many use a ‘notification’ form as part of this process but its completion is not a requirement. However, a formal nomination continues to exist in other public sector schemes including for teachers and civil servants so there are likely to be implications for those schemes from this judgment.
‘Private sector schemes with similar arrangements in place will also want to understand how this judgement effects them.’
If you would like to review your pension saving or investments please contact me.
Kind regards Debbie
THIS BLOG PROVIDES INFORMATION, IT IS NOT ADVICE. ANY OPINIONS ARE GIVEN IN GOOD FAITH AND MAY BE SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE. OPINIONS AND INFORMATION INCLUDED WITHIN THIS EMAIL DO NOT CONSTITUTE ADVICE. (IF YOU REQUIRE PERSONAL ADVICE BASED ON YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES, PLEASE CONTACT US AT DEBBIE DAY FINANCIAL PLANNING