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27 Living Together and Your Rights if You Separate

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1 Introduction

2. How is living together different from being married?

3. Setting up home

4. Making a ´living-together agreement´

5. When you are living together

6. If you or your partner dies

7. State benefits for people living together

8. Tax matters

There are no tax concessions for unmarried couples. Inheritance tax is the main area that can cause difficulty and hardship.

Income tax
There is now almost no difference between married and unmarried couples where income tax is concerned. The married couple’s allowance ended in 2000, except where one or both people are over 65.

Inheritance tax
If your estate is worth more than a certain amount when you die (called the ‘threshold’), then the estate is liable to inheritance tax at 40 per cent of everything over the threshold level. The threshold is currently £300,000, though the figure will increase to £350,000 for 2010-2011. Married people and registered civil partners who inherit their spouse’s or partner’s estate don’t have to pay any tax, but if you are not married or have not registered a civil partnership, you will have to pay.

If your estate is worth more than the threshold or may be getting near to it, you should take legal advice about ways of arranging your finances to reduce the tax your estate may have to pay. It also becomes more important than ever to make a will. Remember that the value of any home you own forms part of your estate.

Capital gains tax
Capital gains tax is charged on the profit made when things are sold or transferred. It applies when money or things are passed between unmarried or unregistered partners, but not between married couples or registered civil partners. If you and your partner plan to transfer valuable assets between each other, seek advice from a specialist solicitor or an accountant.

But there is an important exception to the rule about paying capital gains tax: you don’t have to pay it on any profit you make from selling your home. A couple who are married or are registered civil partners can have one ‘principal private residence’ between them. An unmarried or unregistered couple can have one home each. In all cases, capital gains tax does not apply to any profit made from selling these homes.

9. Pensions

10. If you split up

11. Arrangements if you have children

12. Sorting out the home

13. Sorting out other items you own

14. Dealing with emergencies

15. Terms used in matters to do with living together

16. Further help

17. About this leaflet

The leaflets in this series give you an outline of your legal rights. They are not a complete guide to the law and are not intended to be a guide to how the law will apply to you or to any specific situation. The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since this was printed, so information in it may be incorrect or out of date.

If you have a problem, you will need to get more information or personal advice to work out the best way to solve it. See 'Further help' for sources of information and advice.

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Imogen Clout, a solicitor and mediator specialising in family law.

Leaflet version: January 2009

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