In most countries, if someone dies without a Will, family members will inherit their estate according to the intestacy rules in the country they died in.
This means that co-habitees would not inherit anything from their partner’s estate.
Of course, this can be very distressing and financially challenging for the surviving partner, especially if they are living overseas.
If they have children together, the children would inherit but not the surviving partner. If the children are minors, their inheritance would not be available to them until they reach the legal age of maturity in the country of residence. In the UK, for example it is 18 years old but can be 21 years old overseas.
It may be possible to make a claim under the relevant country’s inheritance legislation and this can be a very expensive court procedures with no guarantee of a favourable outcome and not all countries have this option.
Reasonable Provision & Additional Factors for Cohabitees
If a claim is possible, and the Court finds that a cohabitee is an eligible applicant, the issue of reasonable financial provision must be established.
However, cohabitees are likely to be assessed for a claim for their maintenance only, rather than the higher standard which spouses and civil partners are entitled to.
In determining ‘reasonable financial provision’, the Court will consider a number of factors such as
- the cohabitee’s financial needs and resources
- their medical needs
- any obligation the deceased owed to make provision for them
Additional factors which the Court may consider when deciding cohabitee claims are:-
- The age of the cohabitee
- The length of the cohabitation
- The contribution the cohabitee made to the welfare of the family of the deceased, which includes contribution via looking after the home or caring for the family
Further, the problems posed by cohabitees dying without a Will reinforce the importance of clients executing a Will as soon as they start cohabiting to ensure their wishes are complied with upon their death.
For free advice to help you make the right decisions, please contact us
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