Legal Hypothetical: Grieving partner faces risky claim


Grieving partner faces risky claim.

GEORGE and Lily dated for about 9 months before George moved into Lily’s house.

Lily’s parents had given her $100,000 to assist her with the purchase of the house.

George and Lily had talked about travelling overseas once COVID was ‘under control’ and then planned to begin a family together.

Unfortunately, after one year of living together, Lily died in a car accident.

Lily did not have a will.

George seeks legal advice about the distribution of her estate and George’s solicitor asks him about his relationship with Lily.

He asks about their financial dependence on each other and is told that while Lily had purchased the residence, they shared the performance of household duties and living expenses.

They held a joint travel savings account and Lily contributed towards the purchase of a 4×4 dual cab utility for weekend camping, which was registered in George’s name.

The had attended a family Christmas at George’s parents’ home and were observed as a committed and loving couple by their family and friends.

George is advised that in the circumstances, he and Lily were in fact in a legal de facto relationship at the time of her death.

However, George is advised that in the absence of a will, he had no entitlement to Lily’s estate because their de facto relationship did not exceed the requisite two-year period and therefore Lily’s parents are entitled to the whole of her estate.

George retains the balance of the joint bank account by way of survivorship and the ownership of the 4×4 vehicle.

George is finally advised that he can make a family provision claim against Lily’s estate, despite the short length of their relationship but that the costs involved may exceed any award that might be made in his favour.

Thank you to Anthony Fogarty for his assistance with this column.

If YOU would like a particular issue addressed, please email Manny at [email protected] or call him on (02) 6648 7487.


By Manny WOOD, Solicitor

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