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Published On: May 28, 2020 | Blog | 0 comments

My partner has died suddenly without a will. I’m scared that I will lose our house. Is there anything I can do?

When an individual dies without a valid Will, their estate will be dealt with under the Intestacy Rules. These Rules list the relatives of the deceased in an order of priority, to determine how the estate will be divided.  We have discussed the Intestacy Rules in more details in our previous blog, found here.

Under these Rules, a spouse or civil partner will automatically inherit £270,000 of the estate, and any personal chattels.  The remaining estate will then be divided in half, with half going to the surviving spouse of civil partner, and half divided equally among any living children.

These Rules do not apply in the same way for cohabiting partners, who under the Rules are not intitled to inherit any part of the estate.  There are however a number of other legal options available to partner’s that find themselves in this position.

Claim for beneficial ownership of the property

Firstly, it may be possible to make a claim for beneficial ownership of the property. Ownership of property is divided between legal ownership, being the individual named on the legal title and documents, and beneficial ownership, where individuals other than the legal owner have some right or interest in the property.

In a situation where an individual has lived in the property where the legal title was in the sole name of their deceased partner, it may be still possible to establish beneficial ownership through the following routes:

  • by showing that this was the common intention of shared ownership between the couple;
  • by showing that a promise of shared ownership was made by the legal owner to their partner, which the partner relied upon, to their detriment.

We have discussed these options further in our previous blog, found here.  If beneficial ownership is established, the legal ownership of the property would still be transferred to another, under the Intestacy Rules.  However, the legal owner would then be treated as holding the property on trust for all beneficial owners.

Claim against the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975

Secondly under the provisions of the Inheritance Act 1975, an individual who falls within one of several categories, is able to bring a claim for a greater share of an estate, than they would have received under the Intestacy Rules, or the terms of a Will.

Under this Act a claim can be brought by a partner who was cohabiting with the deceased, for at least 2 years before their death.  The court will take various factors into consideration, which are detailed in our further blog, which can be found here.  If the Court makes an order in favour of an applicant, this can include provision of housing.

*Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*

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