What are your inheritance rights if your partner has died?
Have you been left in financial trouble because your partner has passed away? If so, what are your inheritance rights if your partner has died? Contact us for a free case assessment and details of no win, no fee funding on 0808 139 1599 or send us an email.
We receive a lot of enquiries from people who are plunged into financial trouble when their partner dies, either leaving no will at all or naming other beneficiaries in their will. Partners can also be left facing financial hardship when there is no will, as the intestacy rules do not protect unmarried people. The consequences of this can be far reaching, and in many cases it can leave the surviving partner without a roof over their head.
So, what are your inheritance rights if your partner has died, leaving you in financial difficulty?
The Inheritance Act is able to provide financial relief for bereaved partners who are suffering financial hardship. The case of Taylor v Redmond is a useful illustration of the issues that can arise. It involved a claim by Carole Taylor for provision from the estate of her partner, James Redmond. The value of the estate was around £900,000. Mr Redmond’s two daughters were the sole beneficiaries under his will. Nothing had been left to Carole Taylor.
Can I make an inheritance claim against my partner’s estate?
First, in order to pursue a claim under the Inheritance Act, you must “qualify” by falling within a specified category of claimant. Those categories do include people who have been living together for two years.
Ms Taylor therefore made her claim on the basis that she had lived in the same one-bed flat with her partner, as man and wife, for seven years prior to his death. The daughters argued that their father had numerous ongoing relationships with other women alongside his relationship with Ms Taylor, that he had asked her to move out towards the end of his life, and that she was simply a lodger.
The Judge rejected the daughters’ arguments, viewing the other females as nothing more than friends of Mr Redmond. There was sufficient evidence that he treated Ms Taylor as his partner, including references in medical records and even a letter from one of the daughters referring to her as their “step-mother”.
What about the financial needs of the beneficiaries?
The court will take into account the financial needs of the beneficiaries, who in this case were MR Redmond’s daughters. They initially claimed to be in need but at trial they accepted that they were financially comfortable.
Furthermore, the daughters had effectively forced Ms Taylor out of the flat she had shared with her partner. They falsely said they had no choice but to sell the flat as they did not stand to benefit from the estate, despite being the only beneficiaries under the will. The only alternative they had offered was for Ms Taylor to enter into a formal tenancy of the flat, at £850 per month, a price that they knew she would be unaffordable with her limited means.
These actions were considered extremely distasteful by the court and would have been strong factors in the court deciding that an award ought to be made.
How much inheritance will a partner receive?
This was a strong claim from a long-term partner who was in financial need, from a substantial estate, against two financially comfortable daughters.
The court therefore gave Ms Taylor:
(i) £145,000 for maintenance and a new car;
(ii) a life interest in a new £180,000 property, together with the costs of the transaction; and
(iii) her legal costs.
Interestingly, the court did not award the capital / freehold interest of the new property to Ms Taylor, preferring a life interest instead.
How we can help you
Every inheritance claim is different and has to be assessed on its own facts. So if you want to know what your inheritance rights are if your partner has died then call our legal helpline on 0808 139 1599 for a free case assessment or send an email to [email protected]