Q: My partner died suddenly in August this year from a heart attack, aged 42. We had been together for almost three years but couldn’t marry because his wife wouldn’t agree to a divorce, even though she had left him and gone to work abroad a few months before I met him. After I moved in he bought his wife out of the house and I gave birth to our lovely little boy. He was totally committed to our relationship and said he would always look after us. However, after he died I discovered there was no Will and now his wife’s solicitor has written giving me notice to vacate the house. Surely my son and I have some rights to his estate?
A: Unfortunately, without a Will your partner died intestate and therefore his spouse is the only person who automatically inherits from his estate. This demonstrates how important it is to make a proper, legally binding Will, no matter how young you are and especially if you want to make provision for a co-habitee to whom you are not married.
Despite the fact that you and your partner were not married both you and your son could however make a claim on his estate for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. This applies to anyone who immediately before the deceased’s death was being maintained wholly or partly by the deceased.
You must make your claim within 6 months of the date on which probate or letters of administration were taken out. If you fail to claim within that time frame you will need to seek the permission of the Court. You should therefore seek immediate advice that is specific to your circumstances from a reputable contentious Probate lawyer.