What are your legal rights if your partner dies without a Will?

22/07/2022

If you find yourself in a situation where your partner dies without a Will, then the rules of intestacy will be applied to your case. This takes into consideration the provisions for a surviving spouse or civil partner and surviving children. For individuals who are unmarried cohabiting couples do not have the same automatic rights of inheritance. 

If an unmarried couple has a property in joint names and there is no Will, the property will most likely go to the surviving partner, and the same applies to bank accounts. If there are children in the equation or you were financially dependent on your partner, then it is possible to apply to the court- this will be under the Inheritance Act (Provision for Family and Dependants) 1975, this is also known as an "Inheritance Act Claim".

You could be entitled to make a claim under the 1735 Act under the following conditions:

  • If your partner died without a Will (intestate)
  • If your partner left a Will but did not adequately provide for you or your children 

In this way, you can safely ensure that your loved ones are protected, and you can do this by putting in place a correctly drafted Will or setting up a trust fund.

What happens if we have children together? Am I automatically entitled to my partner's estate?  

A common misconception is that something called 'common law marriage' can protect those who have been living together for a long time. However, this is false. While unmarried and cohabiting partners do have the legal right to claim their partner's estate if they have been living together for more than two years, the process can be a complex one. 

You will not be entitled to an estate if your partner has not left a Will that names you as a beneficiary or has died without leaving a Will in place. If you and your partner have children together, and your partner dies without a Will, the Rules of Intestacy would highlight that their inheritance goes to their closest living blood relative; they will recognise them as your partner's next of kin. If you are an unmarried couple, it is important to make a Will to protect each other and help to avoid the stress, time and costs that could be included in claiming against an estate. 

The experienced solicitors at Russell & Russell will be able to help you if you have any concerns or are not sure about where you stand with regard to the legality of things.

Russell & Russell Wills and Wills Accreditation

The solicitors at Russell & Russell are one of the very few in the locality of solicitors who have been re-accredited with the Wills & Inheritance Accreditation from the Law Society. This is exciting news for our team as the Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS) accreditation is regarded as the best quality mark for Wills and Estate Administration advice. We are pleased to share this as it supports the notion that the effort that we put into the work we do and the support we provide to our clients is being recognised.

How can we help?