In a ringing warning to all of how very foolish it is not to make a will, a woman who lived with her partner for nearly two decades had to go to court in order to stop his half of their home being inherited by his estranged wife on his unexpected death.
Despite the length of their relationship, the man was still married to another woman. If they had owned their home as joint tenants, his share of the property would have passed automatically to his partner when he died from a heart attack. However, they instead held it as tenants in common and that resulted in his half of their home, along with the rest of his estate, passing to his next of kin – his wife.
The 69-year-old woman’s lawyers argued that that meant that she would have to sell her home in order to satisfy the wife’s claim and that she would be deprived of any security for the future. In coming to her aid, a judge found that, as a dependant, she was entitled to reasonable provision from her partner’s estate pursuant to the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
The woman had established that, for a minimum of two years up until the date of his death, she had lived in the same household as her partner as his wife and that she had been wholly or partly financially dependent upon him. The man’s marriage had continued in name only and, in the light of their committed and loving relationship, it was fair and reasonable that his partner should be awarded his half of the property.