'Common law wife' left homeless after partner's death wins inheritance claim

We represented Ms S in a claim against her partner’s estate.

Ms S cohabited with her partner (Mr T) for seven years before he passed away suddenly without making a Will. Mr T solely owned the property that he shared with Ms S. The rules of intestacy did not provide for Ms S and she therefore consulted us to see whether there were any legal steps she could take to safeguard her position.

We agreed to pursue a claim on her behalf for financial provision against Mr T’s estate under the Inheritance Act. The defendants to the claim were Mr T’s family who automatically inherited his estate. They were already financially secure in their own right. The basis of Ms S’ claim was that she was effectively left homeless by her partner’s death and his failure to make provision for her. This is a frustratingly common occurrence where unmarried couples are concerned and it illustrates how important it is for cohabitees to make a will. The situation is not assisted by the myth of the common law wife having legal rights, which they don’t.

We had to act quickly to ensure that Ms S could remain in the home she had shared with her partner until her claim was concluded and alternative arrangements could be made.

Solicitor Christopher Holten represented Ms S at mediation and achieved an out of court settlement that ensured her future was secured.

Ms S was not able to fund her own legal fees. We therefore represented her under a no win no fee funding arrangement. This enabled her able to pursue her claim in circumstances where she would not otherwise have been able to do so.

If you require guidance as a cohabitee or so called 'common law wife/husband' then call our free helpline on 0808 139 1599.