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Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 34105
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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I split from my partner in 2011 after 7 years living together

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I split from my partner in 2011 after 7 years living together and left without any financial gain and returned to NZ to live. We were not married. I had been fully financially supported by my partner during that time and had come to enjoy a luxury lifestyle. On paper he didn't earn much but most years we took 5* round the world holidays flying business and both drove new cars, we ate in different restaurants a few times a week etc. He sold the house we lived in together in 2012 and accepted less than the 500k valuation. I am finding it tremendously difficult to cope financially as a single mum of one on a single parents benefit and renting a cold, damp property as it is all i can afford. I have been considering over the last few years whether I should speak to a lawyer to see if I am entitled to anything from the house we lived in or the other two properties which were also purchased during our relationship. I decided I would firstly approach my ex as we parted as friends and I know he wouldn't have wanted to see me struggle particularly with a baby (he always said I could come back or call him if I needed anything) and it was then that I discovered he had passed away leaving a sizeable sum intestate of 2.4M gross, 1.5M net. After a bit more digging around I think he may have married in 2012 but I'm not 100 percent sure. I did not marry and am not in a realtionship with the father of my baby. Am I able to make a claim for a share of the property or properties we had together which I guess would now be against the estate?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
To add, my ex passed away in Oct 2013. The administrator was granted administration in Apr 2014.
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
HiThank you for your questionMy name is ***** ***** do my best to help you but I need some further information first.Did you make any financial contribution to any of the properties at all?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No, it was mutually agreed that i would take care of the home, garden and other ad hoc duties. When i offered and tried to arrange an amount to pay towards the household when we first lived together, my ex partner absolutely did not want any financial contribution. He made it clear he could afford to support both of us.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
When a job contract ended he asked me not to worry about looking for further work. I used this time to start my own business and did continue to work part time as and when work was available locally.
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Did he ever promise you a share of the property?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
We discussed the element of risk that I took in forfitting personal savings and superannuation in taking on the full time work of taking care of him and the home, project managing all the renovations and extension to our home as well as helping him with his business from time to time too. He told me that he had written a will in which I would keep the main home and contents and a quarter split of the business, offshore savings and other properties. We had been going to become engaged during a trip to NZ but I ended up with a serious neck injury and was unable to go to the place he had chosen to propose to me.
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
What happened when you separated?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Neither of us said we were ending the relationship but as I was leaving the country (probably indefinately) I guess it was assumed we were no longer together. During the course of our relationship we discussed the possibility of moving to NZ. We had come over a few times for a holiday but he didn't think he could live there as he wouldn't have the same earning potential. We looked at other possibilities of moving out of London and even looked at several properties in Dorset and eventually made an offer on a property there but it was withdrawn from the market.  We had started our relationship with a strong likelihood of having children (we both said we wanted them) but after 5 or so years it became obvious that wasn't going to happen. This was hugely upsetting as I had spent most of my last fertile years with someone who had changed his mind.Eventually I said that I would like to move back to NZ to be near my family. He said OK. I started making arrangements for shipping, flights, rehoming some of the animals etc. When I left it was left open ended, he said if it didn't work out I could come back and if I ever needed help I just had to ask. By help he meant financial as that is generally how he would help family and friends. He gave me 3k to take with me which was 'something to help out until you get on your feet'. He knew that I would be staying with family until I found somewhere to live, found work etc.We kept in touch regularly during 2011, we really missed each other after spending 7 yrs together. He said he couldn't live in our house any more as everything reminded him of me and it was like living with a ghost. He let me know he had the house valued and asked if I was OK with it on the market. He said it had increased in value by more than $200k during the time we were together. The way he talked made me think that he would give me a settlement once the house was sold as by this point it was clear I wouldn't be returning to London.
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
But then he didn't give you anything?What were the alterations you project managed?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No I never received anything else. I felt sure he would look after me once the house was sold as he prided himself on looking after 'his own'. I called the house in early 2012 but the landline appeared to be disconnected. I tried a couple of times in 2013. I couldn't get hold of him on his mobile phone and calling him at work during non busy times meant calling in the small hours of the morning for me. I did try his work number a few times but I figured it was either too early, too late or they were too busy to answer (which wouldnt have been unusual). He never told me the house was sold but I noticed it was no longer online.
Project management: The house was completely gutted and an extension was built at the back of the house, steel beams were required in a few places. The rebuild and extension took almost 5 months and we had to move off site during that time. 
I went to site on an almost daily basis. I had to liase with builders, plumbers and electricians where their first language wasn't English. I managed this through learning phrases and drawing pictures. This worked really well. I also liased with the architect, structural engineer, local council, kitchen and bathroom fitters, wallpaper shop, carpet fitters, UPVC fitters, carpenter, I met a man who sold marble and had done a good turn for him so he gave a huge discount on travertine flooring.
Once the house was finished I then designed the garden and had a firm make proper drawings and build it. To save money I ripped up the old decking, concrete pads and shingle as well as an additional concrete paved patio beneath that. Then planted it all once the fencing and raised beds had been built.
After that was finished I arranged for a. carpenter to make a bin tidy at the front, I dug all the ground up and an old concrete slab,I laid a weed membrane and replanted and gravelled. I found an ironmonger to make the fencing and had the pathway reinstated in keeping with age of the house.
It took the best part of a year to get it all completed.
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
How much would you say that the work you personally did added to the value of the property?
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The work done really modernised the property and from conversations with the builder and architect the house hadn't been overhauled since the 1970's judging by the style of the staircase and wallpaper. It was transformed into a stylish, modern home using high end materials and increasing the internal space, landscaping the rear garden to a high spec and improving the front of the property.I've tried to work out an average of 3 bdrm properties in the street and adjoining streets between 2009-2011 and they really vary in value. I am guessing that is dependent on whether the property had been renovated or not.  So as another guess I expect the renovations added approx 40-50k of additional value to the general increase it would have had anyway. I don't know if it's relevant but I've included the average salary of a project manager in that area of London of around 62k p.a.
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Hi
I have to be honest - you will struggle to sustain a claim on the property at this late date
Since you were not married it is a matter of property law
The only basis on which you MIGHT be able to make the claim would be on the basis that the work you did amounted to a financial contribution to the value - and frankly that is reaching.
Had the separation been more recent or if he had still been alive then there might have been a possibility of what could be termed a "nuisance"payment - offering you a small sum to avoid the court costs.
Unfortunately an estate is much less likely to offer such a payment
I am sorry not to give better news - please ask if you need further details
Clare
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Would you take this case on if you were being paid a percentage or would you recommend I walk away and forget about it?
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
I think you would struggle to find anyone to take it in a conditional fee basis
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Clare, many thanks for all your time. If nothing else I now know where not to place any additional effort and have taken this to be a huge learning experience and warning to anyone else who considers a long term relationship in the UK. In NZ once you have lived together for 2 years you are considered married in legal terms. Warm regards.
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
Yes the differences are profound.Sadly had you been together at the time of his death you would have had a claim

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