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Single ladies, put a ring on it (or at least sort the paperwork) this Valentine’s Day

tax benefits of being marriedWhat’s the best treat for you this Valentine’s Day? Roses? Perhaps a candlelit dinner with champagne? Or how about an expression of wish that you should get your partner’s pension benefits after he or she dies? Well, it’s a tough choice I know. I’d be tempted by the bubbles but, having given it due consideration, I think the pension benefits probably tip the balance.

I’m married so I don’t have to worry about broaching the passion-killing topic of who gets what when one of us drops off our respective perches. It’s all neatly set up: I can inherit everything with no tax to pay and I get all the insurances and so-called ‘survivor’s pension’.

If you’re cohabiting, it’s not so straightforward. At all. So listen up if you’re not married to your partner, if you’re a gay couple, if you’re both divorced but never remarried each other or even if you’re family members living together. You have no automatic right to anything unless there’s paperwork to support your claims. And, if the worst happens, you could really be in the financial doo-doo.

Someone who’s narrowly avoided that scenario is Denise Brewster. She went to the Supreme Court last week in the final stage of a battle to claim payments from her late partner’s pension fund. Because she wasn’t married to Lenny McCullan, and because he had forgotten to nominate her to receive these benefits, the pension fund said she wasn’t entitled to any money after his sudden death – at the age of just 43. They had been together for 10 years and were recently engaged.

Fortunately, the judge found in her favour, which brings hope for others in a similar situation. Bearing in mind though that Ms Brewster had to spend oodles of cash on lawyers and court hearings, it may be quicker just to check the right forms have been filled in. Don’t forget to write a will either. (We’ve got a handy guide here.) It’s so unromantic but it could save a lot of heartbreak later.


What’s the most unromantic gesture you’ve ever seen? Let us know in the comments below!

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Monday, 22 April 2019