Where there's a will...

My partner has died without making a will. We lived together but the house is in his sole name. We were not married, am I entitled to anything from his estate?

Many people live together without having married or entered into a civil partnership. Sadly, when one partner dies without making a will there is no provision made for the survivor and therefore no right of entitlement for the survivor to the estate of their partner.

This is a common situation but need not be one that you find yourself in.

In certain situations the survivor may be able to bring a claim against the estate if, for instance, they have provided money for the purchase of the house or if they have made or paid for improvements which have added value to the house,such as adding on a conservatory or an extension.

Unfortunately, a successful outcome is by no means guaranteed – everything turns on the particular circumstances of each case.

Also, a surviving partner may be able to bring a claim against the estate underthe rules of the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependents) Act 1975 if they had been living with the deceased “as a spouse/civil partner” for the two years prior to death and can prove they were financially dependent on the deceased. However, if the deceased had minor children, this means that the surviving partner would be bringing a claim which takes away from the entitlement of those children.

In either case, where young children are involved there is always a need to issue court proceedings and these can be expensive to bring and involve a lengthy and emotional process.

The need to bring a claim against the estate can usually be avoided by the partner who owns assets in their own name making a will to make suitable provision for their partner and any children.

Where there is no will, it is always sensible to seek advice and have explained to you in more detail the implications of living together but not marrying or entering into a civil partnership. If you are already married or in a civil partnership, then in these circumstances too it is worth exploring and taking advice on making a will.

Here at Peace Legal we are happy to advise anyone who has not made a will (or whose circumstances have changed since they made one) on how to organise their affairs to reduce the possibility of any claim needing to be brought against their estate.

For a free initial telephone consultation please contact: Peace Legal Solicitors, 6 Barnsley Road, Wombwell, Barnsley S73 8DD. Tel: 01226 341111 and ask to speak to Ruth Brockett or Claire Wild. Alternatively you can email Ruth Brockett direct at ruth.brockett@peacelegal.co.uk.

(Ruth is a solicitor and Full Accredited Member of Solicitors for the Elderly).

Posted on Jul 15, 2020

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