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A triangular inheritance

Leaving divorce paperwork unattended to doesn't get rid of it, it simply delays it to the disadvantage of a future partner or cohabitant

21 March 2016

The case of Joy Williams, the common law widow who risks losing her home to her deceased partner's spouse, highlights that without a marriage certificate or civil partnership agreement, cohabitants do not have any rights over their partner's estate.

Ms Williams had lived with her partner Norman Martin for 18 years after he had split from his wife, Maureen. However, despite parting ways with his wife, Mr and Mrs Martin had never divorced and he had never updated his will to exclude her. This meant that on Mr Martin's death, his estate passed in accordance with his will, meaning his share of the property in which he lived with Ms Williams, and his other assets, passed to Mrs Martin.

On a divorce where an ex-spouse is mentioned
in a will, the will is read as if that individual had
died. However, a couple who decide to break up,
but do not formalise th...

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