Posted By Irene C. Olszewski, Esq. on November 29, 2012
At least half of the calls I receive are from someone who cohabited with another person who recently died. In those cases, the couple did not choose to marry. That’s okay, marriage isn’t for everyone. The problem, though, is that absent marriage, there is no legal relationship between those two people for purposes of the deceased person’s estate.
Here’s a common phone call: My boyfriend and I lived together for 16 years and we never got married. We lived in his house but I helped to pay the bills every month. He was killed in a car accident and now his family says I have no right to stay in the house. That’s not fair. He said I could live here for the rest of my life.
Question: Did your boyfriend have a Will that left the house to you after his death?
Ah, then his family is correct. You have no legal claim to the house. If he died without a Will, his estate passes according to Connecticut’s laws of intestacy. You are a legal stranger for purposes of our statutes. His family will get the house (provided there is a house left after the estate’s expenses have been paid, that is). You are out of luck (and out on the street).
What your boyfriend should have done, had he truly intended for you to be able to remain in the house in the event of his death, was to have his lawyer draft a Will. In the Will, he could have done one of two things: 1) left the house solely to you or 2) left you a life use in the house, meaning you could live there until your death or some other specified time, but after that, his family or someone else he specified would receive title to the house.
People always leave such things to chance. It’s no laughing matter when your significant other dies suddenly and you find yourself without a place to live.
I can’t say this enough …. call your lawyer sooner rather than later and have a frank discussion about a Will.
Feel free to download my complimentary brochure, Common Questions Regarding Wills in the State of Connecticut.
Stay connected with our Social Media Pages:
Attorney O’s Midnight Musings Blog on Facebook for all blog posts from this blog as well as other legal news.
Connecticut Lesbian and Gay Law blog on Facebook for all blog posts from that blog as well as additional stories and links of interest to the LGBT community.
Be sure to LIKE our pages and become a follower!
Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.
copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.