Mr. Warner aged 91 began living with deceased who was 8 ½ years his junior in about 1995.  They lived together in her house until she died some 20 years later.

At trial the Judge found that during this time they lived as if Husband and Wife in all its aspects.

The deceased developed a form of dementia in 2012, went into a home for a short while and returned to the house with 24 hour care.  When she died, the deceased’s daughter was sole beneficiary of her estate.

Mr. Warner admitted that there was never any understanding that he would have any interest in the estate nor did he claim any.  Nor was there any understand that he would be able to stay in the house or be able to purchase it in the event of her death.  This was something they just never discussed.  He also accepted he was significantly better off than his former partner and that he had the means to buy the house or alternate accommodation if necessary.  During their time together, Mr. Warner and the deceased shared the expense of the house and he paid for the oil which tended to be the largest out going.

Following the death, the deceased’s daughter issued a claim for possession and return of property almost as soon as the probate was granted on her late Mother’s estate. She wanted Mr. Warner out. In response Mr. Warner issued a claim as an unmarried partner for reasonable financial provision for maintenance out of the deceased’s estate.  Mr. Warner’s main concern was that he would be very unhappy if he was in effect evicted from the house where he had spent the happiest 20 years of his life.  The claims were heard over 2 days by a Recorder who found that Mr. Warner was being maintained by the deceased in that she was providing a roof over his head.  Her estate did not make reasonable financial provision for his continued maintenance.  They gave Mr Warner an option to purchase the property from the estate of the deceased for full value which was phrased as a transfer of property Order.  Daughter was also ordered to pay Mr. Warner’s costs.

The case is a helpful authority which accepts that the provision of housing at no extra cost to individuals other than sharing the outgoings can be classed as maintenance under the 1975 Inheritance Act so permitting an application for financial provision by an unmarried partner.

If you are co-habiting with someone and the property is yours you may care to reflect upon your position and take advice from any one of our experienced practitioners based in our offices at Boston, Lincoln, Sleaford, Spalding, Grantham and Newark.

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