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Published On: September 23, 2020 | Blog | 0 comments

Understanding Inheritance Claims: Claiming as a cohabitant

In today’s blog instalment of Understanding Inheritance Claims Tom Dickinson outlines the claim an individual, who’s partner died while they were unmarried/not in a civil partnership, could make under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

I lived with my partner but we were unmarried/not in a civil partnership – can I bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975?

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”) allows certain categories of people (including spouses, children, some cohabitants and those being financially maintained) to bring a claim against the estate of a loved one for a larger share of inheritance.

If you lived with your partner but were unmarried/not in a civil partnership, you may be eligible to bring a claim as a cohabitant. Section 1(1A) of the 1975 Act covers co-habitants and provides that a claim can be brought if “……. during the whole of the period of two years ending immediately before the date when the deceased died, the person was living:


(a) in the same household as the deceased; and

(b) as if that person and the deceased were a married couple or civil partners”.


If you want to bring a claim as a co-habitant, there are therefore a number of strict requirements to be met.

Firstly, there is the requirement to have been living together for “the whole of the period of two years” before death.  Generally, the two years must be unbroken up to death. However, the Court are willing to discount some temporary separations brought about by external circumstances. Examples of this include working abroad or illness requiring a hospital stay or care placement. The important consideration for the Court is where the parties considered to be their home and where they would have been/returned to if not for the job, illness or holiday.

Beyond this, there is also the requirement to have been “living in the same household”.   When considering this, the Court will generally look to see if there was (in their own words) a “shared domestic economy”.  In broad terms, this means some kind of arrangement or agreement in relation to the household outgoings, chores, food shopping or even little things like reminding each other of medical appointments. Having another property, or even staying somewhere else for part of the week, is not necessarily fatal. The important thing is the nature of the relationship and arrangement in relation to that particular property.

Finally, there is also the requirement to have been living together as “a married couple or civil partners”.  The Court has again interpreted this very broadly and it is not strictly  necessary for the relationship to have been sexual.  However, some kind of long-term commitment to each other needs to be demonstrated.  How the relationship was viewed to the outside world is also an important factor.

Even if you cannot satisfy these strict requirements, it is not necessarily the end of the matter for you.  If your partner was taking care of your housing or providing you with any other kind of maintenance,  you may be able to claim under the “maintenance” category of the 1975 Act.  To be eligible under this category you need to prove, in very broad terms, that your partner had assumed some kind responsibility towards you and was providing some form of maintenance to you, of a non-commercial nature, immediately before death.

If you believe that you have a claim, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our specialist Contentious Probate team.

Tune into Anthony Gold all this week for our video and blog series which explores the ins and outs of inheritance claims.  We will be releasing new video or blog content each morning as the series builds throughout the week. In tomorrow’s instalment Beth Holden provides a detailed case analysis of the claimants “shopping list” of needs in Re H (deceased).

*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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