When a person dies without a Will, this is known as dying “intestate”. This means that their Estate will be distributed according to intestacy rules outlined in the Succession Act. If you have been living in a De Facto relationship and your partner passes away, you have certain rights under intestacy law and may be entitled to receive part of your partner’s Estate.
Under the intestacy rules, a “spouse” is defined as a person who was:
- a) Married to the deceased at the time of their death; or
- b) Party to a domestic partnership with the deceased at the time of their death.
A “domestic relationship” is when two people are not married but live together or have lived together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis. This includes a de facto relationship that has been in existence for a continuous period of 2 years, has resulted in the birth of a child.
If this applies to your relationship with your partner, then intestacy rules will be applied when distributing your partner’s Estate.
What if intestacy rules don’t apply to me?
If you were in a de facto relationship with your partner at the time of their death but do not meet the legal definition of a spouse under the intestacy rules, you can still receive a distribution from your partner’s Estate by lodging a family provision claim as an eligible person. It is recommended that you seek legal advice as soon as possible to contest the distribution of your partner’s estate and prevent their assets being allocated against their known wishes.
Understanding Your Rights in a De Facto Relationship
Under the intestacy rules, if your partner had no children; or you and your partner only had children together, then you as a de facto spouse are entitled to the whole of the estate, including real estate, car, boat or shares.
However, if your partner had children from another relationship, then some of the estate may also go to those children depending on the amount of money left in the estate after all debt and funeral expenses have been paid. Different rules may apply if the person left behind more than one partner.
What do I do next?
If you have been living in a de facto relationship and your partner dies without leaving a Will, you need to seek legal advice as soon as possible to determine whether you are entitled to a distribution from the Estate under the intestacy rules or whether you need to make a family provision claim.
At Le Brun & Associates, we understand that life circumstances and relationships can be unpredictable. That’s why we provide a FREE 30-minute consultation with one of our fully qualified and professional lawyers to discuss the best options for you.
If you need caring, compassionate advice or more information on your rights in a de facto relationship, our experienced and compassionate family and property lawyers can advise you in sensitive matters and are dedicated to supporting you with accurate, fast and cost-effective advice.
Contact us today on (03) 9741 6000 to discuss your requirements.