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Jo W
Jo W, Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 83
Experience:  Expert
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My husband and I married in 2004. We divorced in 2015. In

Customer Question

Hi. My husband and I married in 2004. We divorced in 2015. In January 2020 we reconciled and moved back into together in March 2020. We had plans in place to remarry on 1st May this year but had to postpone because of covid. We were waiting for the government to announce face to face appointments to go and get joint bank accounts, rearrange our wedding and make wills. I came home from working a night shift on 16th May and found him dead in our bed. His estranged daughter, who he had seen 3times in 15 years came and took his car and bank account details and said it has to go to probate and she doesn't know what she's going to do with his money. I know that he wanted me to have everything. We were living as man and wife. I'm still legally Mrs Canham although I was known as my maiden name after the divorce. All his details are in our address. I'm named as his next of kin on all his medical records. I just need to know where I stand and what I can do please?
JA: What steps have you taken? Have you filed any papers in family court?
Customer: No. I've done nothing.
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer about this yet?
Customer: No.
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: Like what? I know what he wanted and that was me to have everything. It was only through me that they reconciled, he didn't want to. I know that his funeral has been paid for from his account.
Submitted: 7 days ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Jo W replied 7 days ago.

Hello. My name is***** am a solicitor here to help you with your question. I will respond as soon as practicable which will be some time today.

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Thank you
Expert:  Jo W replied 7 days ago.

Hello. What a difficult situation  - I am sorry for your loss.

What happens to your husband's estate  (all of his possessions) doesn't depend on the relationship he was in with you, even though you were living together.

His estate will be dealt with in one of 2 ways:

1. He left a will. If he did, there will be an executor of the will who essentially sorts out the will and probate to ensure that the beneficiaries receive what was left to them.

2. He didn't have a will. In this case his assets will be distributed under what is called the intestacy rules.  This is essentially a set of rules which sets out who gets what first.  The who gets what first is determined in the following order

If one partner dies without leaving a will, the surviving partner will not automatically inherit anything unless the couple owned property jointly.  So, in your case, this is whether your name is ***** ***** the title deeds to the property.

The way assets are distributed if an individual dies intestate, is that their direct family is automatically entitled to their assets. Specifically, the spouse will inherit the entirety of the assets  (NB, this is a spouse or civil partner, it is not a "common law" partner. If there is no spouse, however, assets will be inherited by the next available relative and distributed equally.

The order of distribution is: Spouse or civil partner., then Children/grandchildren, then Parents, then Brothers and sisters, then Grandparents., then Uncles and aunts.

There is some very useful information on the CAB website which specifically covers what can happen in your situation where you are not in a civil partnership or married.

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/death-and-wills/who-can-inherit-if-there-is-no-will-the-rules-of-intestacy/

Essentially, you need to establish whether there is a will and whether you are a beneficiary.  If not, you need to know whether you are formally registered as an owner of the house as this would mean you own a share of the house.  Otherwise, without a will assets are distributed as per the above list.

I hope this has answered you questions. If not, do let me know.

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Ok
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Do I need to type it all out again or do you have my original request?
Also, will I still be charged for the phone call?
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
We live in a council flat that I am the named tenant, although they have a letter from me stating that he was living here.
So, basically, there is nothing I can do and am at the mercy of his daughter???
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Am I classed as his civil partner seeing as we lived together with documented records of remarrying??
Expert:  Jo W replied 7 days ago.

Hello. I'm not sure where the original part of your question is.  It's not a problem,  I have answered.  AS for phone calls - you will need to contact Customer Services about the call to sort out any payment.  Their number is  0808(###) ###-####/p>

To follow up:

1. Council flat.  You will need to advise them of his death and regarding any benefits related to him.  I am not an exert on this, so that's all I will say on that.

2. Civil Partnership - you are not a civil partnership unless you have gone through a civil partnership ceremony and have a civil partnership certificate.  What you are describing is a common law agreement  - I do recommend looking at the advice from the CAB because it covers the difference between relationships.

3. If there isn't a will, then yes the children are in line to inherit his assets.  If there is a will and you have reason to believe it was entered unfairly or under coercion then you could consider contesting a will.

It is unfortunate that things worked out as they are in terms of the proposed marriage but the above is how the law would distribute his assets.

I trust I have answered your questions.  If not, please let me know.