Estate planning for unmarried heterosexual couples

Unmarried heterosexual couples that live together should ensure that their estates are planned in such a way that their partner is protected.

Section 1(1) of the Intestate Succession Act 81 of 1987 provides that where a person dies intestate (without a will) and is survived by a spouse, such spouse shall inherit the intestate estate. The definition of ‘spouse’ includes:

• a man or woman, married in terms of official marriage law;
• same-sex partners who have undertaken reciprocal duties of support;
• the surviving husband or wife of a de facto monogamous union solemnised in accordance with Hindu rites and the surviving husband or wife of a de facto polygamous Muslim marriage solemnised in accordance with Muslim rites .

Unfortunately, unmarried couples do not enjoy the same protection under our law. Accordingly, if there is no will in place, the surviving partner will not receive any estate assets owned by the deceased partner. Whether you live together in a heterosexual or same-sex relationship execute a will.

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