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My Fiancee recently passed away from cancer . Do I have any rights to his property or retirement.

Spokane, WA |

We lived together for almost 10yrs. I have nothing in writing and He left no will

Attorney Answers 6

Posted

I am so sorry for your loss, you may have an action in equity, but it is very difficult if his family fights it, perhaps you should start by negotiating with them in good faith and hopefully they will be fair. take good care.

Legal disclaimer: The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of Massachusetts. Responses are based solely on Massachusetts law unless stated otherwise.

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Justin Eric Elder

Justin Eric Elder

Posted

Washington has what is called a "Committed Intimate Relationship" that gives people in long-term relationships community property rights. This is basically to help situations like this.

Posted

Unfortunately, if you were not on title to his personal and real property, it is very possible you will not be entitled to much. Please see a probate attorney as soon as possible. Joint ownership is one of the legal benefits of marriage. I am very sorry for your loss.

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Posted

I agree with the previous answers already given. I am also sorry to hear about your loss.

You may also want to check whether you were named on any bank accounts or retirement accounts as these assets are generally distributed based on beneficiary designations and not because of a will.

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Posted

"We lived together for almost 10yrs" probably means you have what WA courts call a committed intimate relationship.

In WA, a common law marriage is not formed regardless of how long two persons live together. However, while the two persons may not have a marriage, they may have a CIR. The genders of the persons involved are not relevant.

The members of a CIR have property rights in assets that would have been community properties had they been married with each other. In WA, it does not really matter to the courts whose name is on an asset. If the asset is subject to division, it will be divided regardless of whose name is on the title.

When a member of a CIR dies without a will, the surviving member has a 50% interest in properties that would have been community properties.

What you should do is review your specific facts with a family law attorney, preferably one with probate experience.

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Judy A. Goldstein

Judy A. Goldstein

Posted

Very informative.

Posted

You have what is almost certainly a Committed Intimate Relationship, which is Washington's solution to this kind of problem. Basically, you have what would have been community property had you been married. Please consult a good probate attorney to get yourself appointed administrator of the community property.

This posting is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. For more information, please visit www.justinelderlaw.com.

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Judy A. Goldstein

Judy A. Goldstein

Posted

This is a very enlightened legal position. Is it fairly straightforward in terms of enforcement? It sounds like something I wish my state had as it would prevent long term partners from being left out in the cold by resentful family members. I have dealt with this problems several times over the years.

Justin Eric Elder

Justin Eric Elder

Posted

This is fantastic, isn't it? Although now, same sex couples can marry and civil unions are available to seniors who would lose benefits from marrying, not everyone has signed up for these kinds of relationships. Especially people who resent having been refused those options for so many years. This statute is also beneficial for people who try to use non-marriage as an excuse to mistreat their partner, as in "we're not married so you don't have any say in this." Unfortunately, most people don't know about it and so are taken advantage of by vindictive family members.

Judy A. Goldstein

Judy A. Goldstein

Posted

Does it kick in as a matter of law, or must these people register somewhere?

Justin Eric Elder

Justin Eric Elder

Posted

It's a matter of law and quite often used when people specifically TRY to avoid marriage.

Judy A. Goldstein

Judy A. Goldstein

Posted

I really like that. I have practiced family law and probate for many years and this would solve a myriad of problems.

Posted

I am also sorry for your loss. Being forced to deal with issues like these related to property after losing a loved one can be very difficult.

I agree with the comments below. Under Washington law, you should be found to have been in a Committed Intimate Relationship with your fiancé. Although you do not have the same rights to property as a surviving spouse, you have a right to an equitable division of the property you and your fiancé acquired jointly during your relationship. Even property titled in your fiancé's name only should be subject to equitable division if it was acquired during your relationship with funds that were earned after the relationship began.

Without doing research, I am not sure whether the equitable division of assets would apply to retirement assets of your fiancé governed by federal law like 401(k) plans or IRAs. Federal law may conflict with and trump Washington law with regard to these assets.

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