A woman has won the right to inherit some of her partner’s estate, even though she had not lived with him for a long enough period to meet the general legal requirement.
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 states that if a couple are not married they must live together for at least two years before one of them can claim entitlement to provision from the other’s estate.
In this case, the couple were engaged and had lived together for three months towards the beginning of their relationship. That situation ended when they both moved out and the man spent a month visiting India with his son.
When he returned from India they lived separately for nine months. However, the couple never ended their relationship and continued to work together in the man’s café. They then both stayed at a friend’s house for two weeks before moving into a flat together.
The couple then lived together for 23 consecutive months before the man died. This was one month short of the consecutive two-year period normally required by the Act.
After the man died, his partner applied for provision from his estate. His sons opposed this, saying that the couple hadn’t lived together long enough for her to receive any inheritance.
The judge ruled in favour of the woman. He said that the couple’s settled relationship had continued throughout the time they had lived apart. Their temporary separation was due to family reasons and their status as an engaged couple had remained intact.
The judge held that the relationship therefore satisfied the Act and the woman was entitled to claim provision from the estate. The decision was upheld at the Court of Appeal.
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