Financial & Legal News

Cohabitee Inheritance Act Claim Case

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Losing a loved one is a difficult and emotional time, but recently we acted for a client who also faced losing her family home when her cohabitee (partner) died without making a Will, and she was left having to bring an Inheritance Act Claim against the Estate.

Can a cohabitee inherit on intestacy?

When a person dies their Estate will usually be distributed under the terms of their Will. However, if there is no valid Will, it is then distributed under the Intestacy rules.

In this case, the claimant (our client), had been in a relationship with her partner for over 15 years (the Deceased), but they never married. The Deceased had two children from a previous marriage and a child with our client.  On his sudden death, the Estate passed equally to his three biological children as the Intestacy Rules do not make provisions for unmarried couples, even when they shared a child and family home.

“Every Inheritance Act claim we deal with is unique and comes with its own set of family circumstances, but in this case our client could have been made homeless had she not come to us for advice.” said Inheritance and Will Disputes Solicitor, Laura Pracy.

“The couple had planned to marry, had lived together as a family and just as she was coming to terms with his death, our client received a letter threatening possession proceedings to remove her from the family home."

“If the Intestacy Rules fail to make provision for you from the Deceased’s Estate, you may still be eligible to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and that is what we did here,” added Laura.

In this case the Deceased’s two older children from his previous relationship had taken no action for years after their father's death and our client continued to live in the family home as she had done prior to the death.  It was only after the children were contacted by heir hunters for an unclaimed estate, that they took action and obtained a Grant of Letters of Administration which then gave them the authority to administer their father’s Estate.

“It was clear our client’s partner wanted her to remain in the family home which he had purchased in 1997 for them both to live in. They made a family home together and when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 he made sure a joint insurance policy covered the mortgage, just three months before he sadly passed away,” said Laura Pracy.

As our client and her partner were not married, the Intestacy Rules did not make any provision for any of the Deceased’s Estate to pass to our client, which included the house where she and her partner had lived for many years.

Bringing an Inheritance Act Claim

Our client was able to establish that she was eligible to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 on the basis that she was a cohabitee. For a cohabitee to be eligible to bring a claim they must for at least two years prior to the death, have been living in the same household as a married couple or civil partners.

Our client claimed that the distribution of the Estate under the Intestacy Rules failed to make reasonable financial provisions for her maintenance needs. In this case we were able to reach a resolution between the parties through settlement discussions and without the matter going to a final hearing, obtaining a result which meant our client was able to remain in the family home.

At Pearson Solicitors, our Inheritance and Will Disputes Department deal with many families and individuals who have concerns over how Estates are handled. Each case is unique and come with their own family background. If no or insufficient provision has been made for you either in the Deceased’s Will or as a result of the Intestacy Rules then you may be eligible to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

How can we help

We have a proven track record and expertise in dealing with Inheritance disputes to help our clients to successful outcomes with compassion and understanding.

If you need legal advice on how to bring a claim under the Inheritance Act, our Inheritance and Will Disputes Solicitors can help. Call us on 0161 785 3500 or

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

Written by Laura Pracy


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