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Husband died without a will

(82 Posts)
ffswhatnext Wed 09-Oct-19 10:36:15

I found out about a week ago that my husband died without a will.
As far as I know, everything would come to myself/our children.

However, we split years ago and he has since made a new life (no children involved not that it's relevant) and has joint assets with his partner.

Firstly I want to reassure her I don't want anything. It's up to our children if they want anything.
Secondly, how can I help sort this out quickly?

She hasn't approached me or our children. I understand that she is grieving and trying to sort everything. Plus she might not be aware that a shit storm is about to head her way. He was a big believer in the common-law wife/husband fallacy.

But I also want to do it without intruding. None of us has spoken to her before.

wowfudge Wed 09-Oct-19 10:38:30

If he doesn't have a will then you'll inherit everything. It's then up to you how you apportion that between the partner and what is left for your children. Get legal advice.

FriedasCarLoad Wed 09-Oct-19 10:40:41

Be aware there’s an option to give the partner the right to keep living in their house, but for your children to inherit it when she dies.

Don’t know the details, and have non legal knowledge.

VanGoghsDog Wed 09-Oct-19 10:41:21

You not inherit the joint assets if they are owned as joint tenants, that goes directly to her. There may well be nothing to inherit.

You might ask a mutual friend to approach her first?

Pollaidh Wed 09-Oct-19 10:43:36

You need legal advice, this is going to get complicated. Could be wrong but I think it's possible that if he dies intestate then some comes to you and some goes to your children in trust.
www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/death-and-wills/who-can-inherit-if-there-is-no-will-the-rules-of-intestacy/

Nothing will go to your husband's partner, and if he owns the house they live in, the car she drives etc, she will have no right to it, or his other assets.

Speak to a lawyer asap, you may be able to get one through your union, and make clear that you don't want to disadvantage his partner.

Sicario Wed 09-Oct-19 10:43:48

If you are still legally married, then you will inherit. However, she would be able to apply to the courts to protect whatever joint investments they had.

You absolutely need legal advice. It might be an idea to call your local coroner's court and explain the situation. They are the ones that deal with probate.

mumwon Wed 09-Oct-19 10:49:00

you should get his pension you need legal advice - go to law society website & follow links for: local to you, expert in this field & do they offer free or low cost half hour (if you need this)

Mintypea5 Wed 09-Oct-19 10:54:51

If any of their join assets like house and bank account are in her name too she'll inherit those.

If it's all in his name than it will come to you and the children

Dyrne Wed 09-Oct-19 10:58:37

I think you need to seek legal advice before you promise anything. You don’t want to immediately give them everything only to be slammed with inheritance tax or realise it has a knock on affect to your benefit entitlement or something so you end up massively out of pocket (note - I have no idea if this is a thing, just something’s I thought of off the top of my head)

ffswhatnext Wed 09-Oct-19 11:04:43

As far as I know, they weren't a joint tenant.
Unfortunately, there is no mutual friend. Everything I know is from what he told our children, who are also aware of the shit storm.

Didn't think it would be as easy as signing a bit of paper. (If your separated don't hold off getting a divorce!!)

Even his pension I don't want (assuming there is one). They were together a lot longer than we were. Just neither of us got around to getting a divorce.

ffswhatnext Wed 09-Oct-19 11:06:55

@Dyrne I never even contemplated that.

And I'm now thinking shit does anything of mine now get dragged into this, not that I have much lol.

RandomWok Wed 09-Oct-19 11:11:41

You sound absolutely lovely OP. I have no advice but just wanted you to know. It's very refreshing that you want it to be done fairly. smile

Seadragonusgiganticusmaximus Wed 09-Oct-19 11:13:34

You and ‘common law wife’ need proper legal advice on this. You would do better posting on the legal board here but nothing will substitute for specific advice from a lawyer or accountant.

FWIW, my understanding or points to clarify are as follows:

If you are in England (it’s different in Scotland) then, if there are children, a surviving spouse gets the first 250k plus half of the rest and the other half is shared equally between the children. Those are the rules and you can’t just ignore them.

You can, think, formally waive your rights. In that case it would all go to the children. An issue here is that amounts left to the spouse are (I think) free from inheritance tax. Amounts left to the children are not. So if your waiver takes the amount left to the kids over the IHT threshold (325k I think) then there would be additional tax to pay..

This obviously doesn’t result in the CLW getting anything. If you wanted her to have what is legally due to you, I think you would have to gift it to her. That could I think have IHT implications for you so take advice before you do it. It might also impact any benefits you receive or care payments.

Who gets their house will depend how they held it. If they owned as joint tenants it goes straight to the CLW. If they are tenants in common then I think his share is part of his estate.

There’s probably other stuff I don’t even know about so I’ll just add one more time that you and CLW need proper advice.

moreismore Wed 09-Oct-19 11:15:51

I wonder whether the best approach might be to speak to a solicitor and then see if they can approach her solicitor if she has one? Or communicate via the coroner’s office? Then you could make initial contact via a third party to reassure her ie your intentions and she can decide how she wants to communicate after that. You will also have some insight into any consequences for you before speaking to her.

WMPAGL Wed 09-Oct-19 11:20:41

OP, seconded that you are lovely. Just get some advice and then have a really good think about whether you're sure you wouldn't want to accept anything at all to pass on to your children.

If not, and you're absolutely sure, presumably your children are grown up and know her?

Could you, through them, send a condolence card and include a sealed letter in it marked something like "to be opened only when you're ready to deal with the practicalities" (crap sentence, but you get the gist!)

In it, you could essentially say that you didn't want to be crass while she was grieving but just wanted to reassure her that, other than wanting to stay in the same position you're currently in (whatever that may be), you personally have no interest in receiving anything you may be technically entitled to and didn't want her to worry on that score.

Obviously talk to a solicitor about that course of action first, but that might be a nicer way to go about it?

WeBuiltThisBuffetOnSausageRoll Wed 09-Oct-19 11:20:45

Legally, it will all come to you, but morally (as you say), none of it should really belong to you, as your connection had long since ceased (assuming your children are now grown up and are no longer dependent on you financially or for housing, feeding, care etc.).

Anything that comes your way should morally be passed straight on to the children. That said, he obviously had a relationship (albeit unmarried) with his new partner, so maybe some of it should be offered to her. If they had no children, she presumably wasn't financially dependent on him as a SAHM.

It might be a weird way of looking at it, but he had a significantly lengthy connection/relationship with both of you at one stage - as he had no children with his new partner, should it make a big difference that his relationship with her was the later one, which happened to be during which he died? Is that a really crazy thing to ask?! I suppose it also depends on the circumstances of your separation and if there was acrimony or just growing apart.

All else being equal, I'd say that, morally, all liquid assets should go straight to the children. If they had a jointly owned house, which was bought after they'd got together, then they will either have bought it as joint tenants, in which case it will now all have passed to her, or as tenants in common, which will have been his way of saying (legally) that he didn't want her to inherit his half on his death. Possessions and chattels, obviously, are likely more of sentimental than financial value so the children will probably need to discuss that with the new partner.

Just one thing for your children to establish, though: will she be planning to leave everything (or at least your former husband's share) to your children on her death?

Sadly, it's all too common in such cases for the surviving partner to accept everything as their own (in her scenario, more likely chattels and sentimental positions/heirlooms already in the house that won't be accounted for in any will or considered for probate) and then completely ignore the connection with their late spouse/partner's children and give them nothing, automatically passing the lot on to their own children (if applicable) or families/friends.

It's not always done consciously, but it frequently ends up that way when the 'link' person dies. When my (widowed) GM died, and my DM (her DD) died soon after, almost all of her possessions, including all of the sentimental/keepsake things, went to her other DD, my DA - made perfect sense as she had been her DM. My DA has now died and all of those things of her DM's which previously went to her and had since become absorbed into her own worldly goods were dealt with, as you'd expect, by her own children, and all passed on to them. Through nobody's conscious planning or deliberate conspiring, my DSis and I (and our DC) will never have a chance to own any of those things and their many associated happy memories - at least not without seeming very grabby or things getting very awkward, considering we'd now be effectively asking our cousins for their Mother's possessions.

HelloYouTwo Wed 09-Oct-19 11:21:04

How old are your children? Were you getting maintenance for them? Or contributions direct to them to help with their living costs if older? Don’t be too quick to give away their inheritance.

You are right to be fair but don’t create hostages to fortune until you’ve had proper advice!

Bellringer Wed 09-Oct-19 11:21:48

Check out the legal situation first. Some good advice here and some rubbish. One or both of you may have to apply for letters of administration from probate office.
I presume she is organising funeral, will you or dc go?
I would send a nice card and a note saying you realise it's complicated but hope you can come to a mutual agreement and offer to speak afterwards. Good luck.

DamonSalvatoresDinner Wed 09-Oct-19 11:22:55

Firstly I'd like to say how nice it is to hear that although entitled, you're not wanting to take what's his from his partner. Very decent of you. And secondly, I'm very sorry for your children's loss.

As already mentioned you would probably be entitled to his pension. It's not something you can just sign over to his partner either. You could accept that as your children's inheritance and, after checking what inheritance taxes there are, sign whatever you do get over to her.

I would try to contact her and offer your condolences and help. She may very well be panicking at home knowing that you're legally entitled to his assets. I am sure she would like the reassurance that you're not wanting anything.

minesagin37 Wed 09-Oct-19 11:23:52

Agree you need legal advice as this may have ramifications you didn't expect. Personally I think if he didn't make a will take the money.

Flamingolegs Wed 09-Oct-19 11:25:41

As the legal wife you would be the one entitled to obtain the Letters of Administration.
I would seek legal advice, if you do decide to gift anything that you are entitled to it will probably be best to do so via a formal variation of intestacy (so that it comes from his estate and not as a gift via you) but that may affect inheritance tax.
A solicitor might suggest that you/ your children put a caveat in place to prevent anyone else obtaining letters before you.

TheRobinIsBobbingAlong Wed 09-Oct-19 11:31:12

As pp has said, it's good of you to be fair, but don't be too quick to pass up any inheritance for your children. They are his flesh and blood and are entitled to receive from their father's estate.

Dyrne Wed 09-Oct-19 11:32:18

Sorry you’re having to deal with this, @ffswhatnext - how selfish of your ex to not bother with a will and to leave this crap for everyone to deal with.

Hopefully you can get a decent solicitor to navigate everything with you, including how to approach the ‘new’ partner.

ffswhatnext Wed 09-Oct-19 11:40:12

Thank you, everyone. I knew it would be complicated for her and I never considered the ramifications for me either. I really did think it would be me signing bits of paper for her.

The children are now adults. Morally I will be told to keep the lot as he never paid child support (long, complicated). And like I said it's up to them what they want to do, and I thought it would be that simple.

Yes, I will get legal help (searching now) was just hoping to avoid this. Skint and no union, or legal help tacked onto any policy. Fuck.

ffswhatnext Wed 09-Oct-19 11:45:31

Should have seen this coming. One of the reasons he's an ex was the selfishness. But I'm not going to start slating him.

Someone asked if it was a mutual break. No, it wasn't.

And now knowing my luck that I don't want it, he will have millions lol.

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