Co-habiting couples with children have different financial entitlements to married couples following the death of a partner. But two rulings in the Supreme Court could improve the outlook for parents who choose not to marry. So what are your rights and entitlements if you lose your partner, but weren’t married?
Widows and widowers with children will now receive an initial lump sum of £3,500, (those without children receive £2,500). This is followed by 18 monthly payments of £350 for those with children (£100 for those without). That makes the maximum available under the new scheme £9,800 .
But this doesn’t apply to unmarried couples – only to husbands, wives and civil partners who have been bereaved – except in Scotland, for couples who can prove they were co-habiting before 4 May 2006.
According to Alison Penny, the director of the Childhood Bereavement Network: ‘Over 2,000 families like Siobhan’s face the double hit of one parent dying and the other parent realising that they and the children are not eligible for bereavement benefits.
‘While the Widowed Parent’s Allowance was replaced in April 2017 with the Bereavement Support Payment, co-habiting parents are still ineligible for this new benefit. Each day that parliament delays, another five grieving parents and their children will fall foul of this injustice.’
For all its joys, raising a child is an expensive business, making it critical that you know precisely what income you can count on should your partner pass away or be unable to work.
In terms of pensions, while changes may be on the way, the received wisdom from pensions advisers is to make sure that you are the nominated payee. Bear in mind that, in some cases, a partner may still have a former spouse down as their nominated person.
Not all pension schemes include life cover either, so it’s a good idea for every couple to look at the small print of what financial cover they have in place in the immediate aftermath of losing a partner.
 AgeUK, 2019. Bereavement Support Payment, https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/money-legal/benefits-entitlements/bereavement-benefits/