Review insurance for dependants and your will on separation if you were cohabiting

Separating from your partner may mean that you need to take out extra life insurance or to change or draw up a new will. Find out what you can do to make sure any dependants, such as children, are financially protected.

Sort out life insurance

Work out whether you need or have enough life insurance.

If you and your ex-partner had a mortgage together, you may also have had a joint life insurance policy to go with it. When you separate, you can’t divide a life insurance policy – one of you has to take it over or you must cancel it entirely. That means the other partner could be without life insurance.

If, after you separate, you have children or anyone else who depends on you financially – or you have a joint mortgage with a new partner – you should consider taking out life insurance.

Read more in our guide Life insurance – choosing the right policy and cover.

Protect child maintenance payments

Consider taking out life insurance to cover your ex-partner’s life if you receive child maintenance from them. You or your ex-partner could take out a policy that pays a lump sum, or one that pays you an income for a specific length of time (perhaps until the child maintenance payments were due to end).

Life insurance that pays an income rather than a lump sum is called ‘family income benefit’ insurance.

Review death-in-service benefits

Your workplace may pay out a lump sum if you were to die while you’re employed there. You normally have to say who you’d like to receive this lump sum, although some schemes won’t recognise cohabiting partners as beneficiaries (someone who’s able to receive the lump sum after you’ve died). Even so you should check who you’ve nominated as a beneficiary after you’ve separated.

Review your will

Review your existing will, or write a new one after you and your ex-partner have separated. If you didn’t leave anything to your ex-partner, you don’t automatically need to make a new will. But you should review it to make sure it includes your current wishes.

Changing your will

You don’t have to rewrite your entire will if you are only going to make very minor changes. Instead you can add what’s called a ‘codicil’.

Read more in our guide Changing your will.

If you want to make major changes to your will – such as leaving money or possessions to someone else – you’re probably better off drawing up a new one. Make sure that you say that this new will revokes any earlier wills.

Find out how to draw up a will in Writing a will – your options.

Why you need a will

If you don’t have a will at all, think about getting one drawn up. If you don’t have a will when you die, your money and possessions will be passed on according to the law. This can result in some complicated arrangements, for example between first and second families. And that may not be what you want.

For example:

  • Any children you have could inherit everything if you don’t marry or enter a civil partnership
  • If you do remarry or enter a new civil partnership, your new husband, wife or civil partner could receive some or all of your money and property
  • If you live with a new partner without marrying or entering a civil partnership, they would not have an automatic right to inherit, if you don’t have a will

Find out more about Why you should make a will.

Your next step

Find out Your financial position in a new relationship