Common Law Marriage
The 'common law wife' is an urban myth. A woman can live with a rich man for 20 years, have four children by him and not be entitled to a share of the property or any financial provision other than with regard to the children.
There are over two million couples living together in England and Wales in cohabitation. Cohabitants have significantly fewer rights and responsibilities than their married counterparts, but are not aware of their position and consequently take no steps to protect themselves. For example, if you contribute to savings in an account in your partners sole name the money is assumed to belong to your partner; the onus would be on you to establish the intention was that the savings be shared, which can be difficult to do.
If the house is in your partner's name, but the understanding is that the property is for both of you, you would have to show, either, that was indeed the understanding and that you have acted to your detriment in reliance on your belief that you have an financial interest in the property (which can be an uphill task), or that you have made a financial contribution to it's purchase (which could include payments towards the mortgage). Similarly, if you own the house, you may wish to make it clear from the outset that the property will remain yours if the relationship ends. To avoid any misunderstanding it is important that the intention is properly understood and documented
If buying a house with your partner, or moving in together, it is essential you speak to Carol Maher for advice as to the steps you can take to secure your financial interest in the property & what will happen if things go wrong.
In the absence of a will not one penny of your assets will pass to your partner. He or she has the right to apply to court for financial provision from your estate if you have lived together for more than two years, but that is expensive and the outcome is uncertain. Much better to make a will.