08 November 2018
My partner has passed away. What does the future hold?
Today, my partner passed away. He was only 50. I know it’s a cliché, but you think these things always happen to other people. He called me to say that he was running a few minutes late as something needed to be finished off at work and he would meet me and the kids for some supper at our favourite restaurant. He never made it though. He died in a car crash on his way to meet us. We said ‘I love you’ and he said to give the girls a kiss and that he couldn’t wait to see us before hanging up.
We met when we were both in our thirties and knew straight away that we were meant for each other. He made me laugh and he was the kindest man I knew. I moved into his home after six months of meeting. He ran his own small business and once we had the girls I gave up work to raise our family but had started my own cake business recently. We always meant to get married and make it ‘official’ but we never got round to it. When he hit 50 we started talking about making a will but we were so busy raising a family and with jobs getting in the way, there never seemed to be a good time.
And now he’s gone. I’m a widow at 45 and the girls are 14 and 12. We are completely devastated.
I can’t concentrate, I can’t sleep and the girls are finding it very difficult. Everyone has tried their best to comfort us but no one knows how we really feel. I’m also starting to worry about money. We had some savings in our joint account but I need to start thinking about other sources of income to see us through until I can go back to work.
My partner’s business has gone under, as all his clients have had to go elsewhere. But the girls and I need money and I’m shocked that I don’t have automatic entitlement to his business bank account even though we lived with each other for so many years and had children together. The process to access this is now so convoluted and lengthy, I don’t have the headspace for it. Things are going to be tight for a while.
Another month brings another hurdle. As we never got married the intestacy rules say that our children automatically inherit my partner’s estate including the home that I’ve paid into for years, but as they are under 18, they are not eligible to apply for a grant of administration. Therefore, I have to apply to the courts to deal with the estate. But there’s a huge problem. I have to sue my own children to access it, which means that they have to have their own legal representation. Although I’m doing it for us, it feels a little sickening. The court costs are eyewatering too.
I’ve now found out that because we were unmarried and the estate is over the inheritance tax threshold of £325,000, I’ve got to pay a tax liability. If we had been married anything which I inherited would have been exempt from inheritance tax.
Everything is crumbling down around us. Although I now have a grant of representation to deal with the estate, I’m ashamed to say that as we didn’t have life insurance, the inheritance tax I owe has to be paid by selling our home. It was only a three-bedroom semi, but it was one of the things that the girls relied on to be consistent when everything else was falling apart. They’re so worried that all of their memories of their dad are going to disappear as soon as the house is sold. I can’t help thinking that we’ve failed them.
I just wish my partner and I had planned ahead so my family would have had a more secure future. The emotional and financial damage has been immense.
Although this scenario may seem extreme, there are many families in similar situations who may not realise the implications. You can speak to Sharon Heselton, a wills, trust and probate lawyer who can help you to plan your future. Call 01753 279030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org