What rights do I have to my life partners estate? How? 14 Answers as of August 24, 2015

My life partner passed away. He lived with me for 6 years. His mother was his beneficiary but he had no will. Are they allowed to come to my house and just get whatever was his or do I have a say so even if we bought things jointly without receipts saying who bought them?

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O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C.
O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C. | Sean P. O'Keefe
In Maryland, you may/likely have rights to assets jointly held with the life partner, but unless you are a designated beneficiary on a transfer on death asset you may not have any interest in the life partner's other property.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 8/24/2015
Ronald K. Nims LLC | Ronald K. Nims
As a life partner, you have no right to any of his property. However regardless of your relationship, you're owner of 1/2 of property that you bought together UNLESS it's property with express ownership, then the title or contract controls ownership (motor vehicles, bank accounts, etc. have express ownership). So if you bought a $5,000 living room suite together, you have the ownership of 1/2 of the items. This is referred to as "tenants in common". He used to own the other 1/2 now it's owned by his estate. The first problem is whether you or his mother, can prove who bought it. Obviously, if it's on your credit card statement it appears that you own it completely but if he wrote you a check the next day for 1/2 the purchase price, then that's evidence that it was bought together. Lay persons often say "Possession is nine-tenths of the law." That's not strictly true but lawyers say, "The possessor's claim is valid against everyone except the actual owner."The effect is that if you have possession, then the assumption is that you own it 100% until his mother can prove that her son owned it or it was jointly owned. With no receipt, that is a daunting prospect. There is often evidence that can be considered, did you have it insured? Did he have it insured? Is there written evidence which addresses ownership? For example, a letter or note? She can say that her son owned it, but you can say you owned it, so that won't settle anything. But insurance and belief that someone owned it only go so far, for example, if you now have a $10,000 Rolex, it was stolen from an unknown person and your partner paid $2,000 for it in a shady transaction. In that case, the true owner is unknown, so even if his mother can prove her son bought it, he wasn't the true owner, so she can't take it from you. My advise is change the locks and don't let them in to take anything. If the demand things, ask them to write a list that specifically identifies the items that they want (this has the advantage of 1. letting you know what they want and 2. anything they don't put on this is de facto yours, if they come back later and ask for other items, it looks like they're lying). Once you know what they are asking for, you can decide which things you're willing to give them (do you really want his old clothes, etc.?), which that you want things you can prove are yours and which things that you want but have no evidence for. Then tell them that you believe you own all the things you want and ask them why they think that he owned them. If the answer is "that clock is a family heirloom that grandfather built in 1932 and we've got pictures showing it in his house from the 1950s" then give up that item. Otherwise, tell them that they can see you in court.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 8/11/2015
Law Office of Pamela Braynon | Pamela Y. Braynon
Unfortunately, if your partner had no children, his parents are his next of kin. As far as her coming into your house, and removing things, she would need your permission to come in and do so. If you have no proof as to who bought the items, then unless your partner gave the receipts to his mother, she doesn't have proof either. And because the items are in your home, then the items are yours.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 8/10/2015
Irsfeld, Irsfeld & Younger LLP | Norman H. Green
His mother can take everything that was his.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/10/2015
Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
Very few states recognize "life partners" for the purposes of determining the distribution of an estate, whether the partners are of the same or opposite sex. However, I would hope that his mother would acknowledge this long term relationship and allow you a say in the distribution of his possessions. The things that you bought jointly should stay with you; however, the things he owned prior to becoming your partner may belong to her now. In any case, she has no right to enter your home without your permission.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 8/10/2015
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    Unmarried partners should ALWAYS have wills. The basic answer is no, you have no rights in his estate. The things that you bought jointly, unless there is a written instrument saying they are held as joint tenants with right of survivorship, are owned as tenants in common: you own half, and your partner's estate owns half. His family can't just come in and get things; if they try, call the cops. That's called "stealing." They can open probate, and then the personal representative can demand your partner's share of the things you and (s)he owned. Rather than go down that road, you might want to offer to deliver to them those things which are family heirlooms, or which have personal significance for his or her siblings or parents.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/10/2015
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law
    James Oberholtzer, Attorney at Law | James Oberholtzer
    You have a say. If the things are not identified as his, you are the person who knows what was his and what is yours. I suggest you separate the things and put his things in a different room or deliver them to his mother. Get a written receipt for the things you give to her. Technically, half ownership passes to his estate and then to his mother. His creditors have first claim on them. Did he owe any money to anyone at his death? To you? If so, the creditors get repaid first. This is a legally complex area. I recommend you retain an attorney to advise you.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/10/2015
    Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C.
    Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C. | Bernard H. Greenberg
    You may have rights however there are time limits. Visit with an attorney who specializes in estates and estate litigation immediately.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/10/2015
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    If you can prove that the items were jointly purchase, you have a right to them. Otherwise, you receive nothing.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/10/2015
    The Law Office of Kimberly D. Moss
    The Law Office of Kimberly D. Moss | Kimberly Moss
    Because your life partner died without a will, state laws known as intestate succession are going to determine who is entitled to inherit from him. Specifically, his blood relatives (parents, siblings, etc.) are going to be the ones legally entitled to any property he left behind. Unfortunately, this scenario should perhaps encourage you to make sure that your affairs are in order so that when the time comes, your property goes to the people you'd like and not who the state determines are your heirs. Talk to a lawyer familiar with estate planning for more information and specific legal advice.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 8/10/2015
    Patrick W. Currin, Attorney at Law | Patrick Currin
    His estate passes by intestate succession. His next of kin get all possessions and an interest in all joint purchases.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/10/2015
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd.
    Ashcraft & Ashcraft, Ltd. | Randall C. Romei
    All assets owned jointly by you and your life partner pass directly to you as the surviving joint tenant. Unless the family of your life partner can identify items that he brought into your household they would have no right to personal property in the home. There are no receipts that prove anyone other than you are the owner. They can only enter your home with your permission, unless they are part owners do to the manner of title ownership. If you and your life partner did not get married or become partners under a civil union then you have no claim on the assets of your life partner that pass through his estate without a Will that directs distributions to you.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/10/2015
    Law Office Of Victor Waid
    Law Office Of Victor Waid | Victor Waid
    Suggest you consult a probate lawyer to advise you re your rights as to life partner's estate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/10/2015
    Apple Law Firm PLLC
    Apple Law Firm PLLC | David Goldman
    There is no common law marriage in Florida. Any assets that were his are not yours. Technically they should be appointed as the PR by a court before being able to take his possessions.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/10/2015
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