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Very sudden death, partners for 27 years but not married

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Very sudden death, partners for 27 years but not married

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
8 replies 2.6K views
Shelski_2Shelski_2 Forumite
189 posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
I'd be extremely grateful for any advice.
My Uncle's partner of 27 years died earlier today. She was daignosed terminally ill on Tuesday (out of the blue) and given 2 weeks to live. She made arrangements to see solicitor to make a will this week, but died today before this could be done.

She was anxious that her and my uncle weren't married, even though she named him as next of kin on pensions and at the hospital. They have a joint account but she was the only one with a bank card (my uncle is virtually agorophobic). My uncle has her bank card and she told my mum where to find all of her papers etc. on Friday.

Her sister has kindly informed my uncle today (when he could barely stand up) that she is her next of kin as they weren't married and she will be arranging everything.
Where does my uncle stand legally? He just wants to bury his partner with the dignity she deserves and carry out her wishes that she wasn't able to finalise.

Please, please help as soon as possible. Where does he stand with the bank? with the funeral and with her insurance polices if they weren't married.

Thank you so much in advance,

Number of debts between us - 3 (2 @ 0%)


  • dzug1dzug1 Forumite
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    The sister, being 'next of kin', (not a precise legal term BTW) has the right (depending on what other relatives there are) to deal with the estate. As there is no will it will have to be dealt with under the rules of intestacy, which alas means your uncle will get nothing except things like pensions, etc, but only if they have been specifically nominated to him. Same with insurance policies. They are part of the estate unless written in trust.

    He will have the right to apply to the probate court for 'reasonable provision'. What that is will depend on the finer details of the circumstances.

    The funeral is less clear cut. Maybe best to let the sister arrange - and pay - for it. If there's nothing in the estate it will come out of her own pocket.

    An unfortunate situation. A message for others who could land up in the same situation - get married or at least make a will. No help to you I know.
  • building_with_legobuilding_with_lego Forumite
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    I'm sorry for your loss and wish you strength for the difficult time ahead.
    I believe that "next of kin" in the eyes of funeral directors is the person who actually registers the death- they get the say on what type of service/ music etc. (I'm ready to be corrected if I'm wrong.) The joint account money is now his but everything else is, as dzug says, belonging to the estate unless your uncle is named as beneficiary. Good luck.
    They call me Dr Worm... I'm interested in things; I'm not a real doctor but I am a real worm. :grin:
  • Sorry for yor loss, I hope the situation is sorted out to your uncle's late partner wishes

    The estate will go to Probate, and Probate will decide how to distribute the assets, if there are any (apart from the joint account).

    In most cases this will be in favour of the next of kin, but not always.
    As I have said on this forum before, I have experience of Probate carrying out a deceased person's wishes, even though there was no will, and distributing the estate to people who were not next of kin. In our case, my sibling, my mother and I all benfitted.

    However, as a cautionary note I would recommend everyone reading to make a watertight will and not rely on such blue moon occurences.

    But with this in mind, Probate could (but are probably unlikely to) find in favour of your uncle, as there is other evidence of his partner's wishing him to be their beneficiary.

    I don't wany to raise false hopes for your uncle but likewise don't want him to dismiss it all as hopeless, especially as he will be acutely stressed at the moment

    Best wishes to you all
    You never know how far-reaching something good, that you may do or say today, may affect the lives of others tomorrow
  • RASRAS Forumite
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    Who has registered the death? If uncle can do this, then he can arrange the funeral. However, he will also then have to pay for it.

    As the sole survivor, he will now have access to the joint account. Do they a house? if so is it joint tenancy or tenants in common?

    If she nominated him to reeive things like death in service grants and pensions, then he will receive them.

    Otherwise he eneds to consider making an application for support from the estate if he was financially dependent. Otherise the estate will be distributed in line with intestacy rules and he will get nothing.
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • McKneffMcKneff Forumite
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    If they have a joint bank account then the balance of any money in there is automatically the surviving joint account holder.

    So sister has no claim on that.
    make the most of it, we are only here for the weekend.
    and we will never, ever return.
  • whitewingwhitewing Forumite
    11.9K posts

    If your uncle is virtually agorophobic, is he in the care of mental health services? I am just thinking that he may well need considerable extra support at this time, partly due to the sheer shock of the situation and also to help him handle stuff with the other side of the family. It may perhaps be worth speaking to the Mind charity, and perhaps even delaying the funeral a little so that he has time to get his head round the situation (depends if he would feel better with the funeral sooner rather than later).
    :heartsmil When you find people who not only tolerate your quirks but celebrate them with glad cries of "Me too!" be sure to cherish them. Because these weirdos are your true family.
  • daskadaska Forumite
    6.2K posts
    Is the sister being nasty or does she think she's helping or that she's legally obliged to do this? Some people are not good at communicating at times of extreme stress so it may be possible that this is a misunderstanding. But, working on the premise of worst case scenario:

    As pointed out, the joint bank a/c is automatically his and he needs to make sure that the bank etc are informed so that the sister can't remove funds from them. She is not entitled to use money from this a/c to pay for a funeral as it does not form part of the deceased's estate. Ditto for any savings/ investments/ insurance/ etc. If it's in joint names or he is the named beneficiary then it's his, if not it forms part of the estate.

    Did she/he/they own a house or were they renting? If jointly owned then it's automatically his, if owned as tenants in common then half of it is his and half goes into her estate so it may need to be sold, if hers then it forms part of the estate. If they were renting then the LL or agent needs to be informed that she has died but that he wishes to continue the tenancy, he really doesn't need any misunderstanding that results in the tenancy agreement being terminated. If they were getting housing or council tax benefit then the housing department needs to be informed.

    Who registered the death? If he did then he could organise the funeral, but, if there's a risk that the sister might be taking all the rest of his partner's estate he might like to let the sister organise it and take responsibility for paying for it.

    And he needs to take URGENT legal advice on the matter of whether he might be classed as a dependent and therefore have a claim on the estate. So any information as to who owned what, had the larger income etc might be very relevant.

    I wish him the best of luck, I sincerely hope he doesn't need it and the sister was simply being overly officious as a result of stress.

    Can you help him finding the paperwork, contacting his GP, Social Services etc to access the help he needs, it sounds as if this should be done urgently.
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  • Thank you so much for all of your advice, it is very gratefully received.

    The house is rented and it is solely his name on the tenancy agreement so that is one good thing.

    My uncle has been able to register the death as she named him as next of kin at the hospital and he was present at the death.

    The sister has backed off, and my Uncle (with lots of support from my parents) has arranged the funeral in line with his partner's wishes (this is next week).

    My mum has sorted out the paperwork, insurances etc. It consists of some pensions and insurances which have specific names on except for 1 small one.

    I have been on a mission since this at work to get people who are living together but not married to make a will (if not everyone) and am thankful that my parents and my husband and I now have one.

    My uncle would not be open to anyone with regards to open minds etc, but he has been out of the house with my parents and managed to get his shopping by booking taxis both ways.

    Thank you again for your advice and support, it has been invaluable
    Number of debts between us - 3 (2 @ 0%)
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