"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.
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... more
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.
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... more
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.
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.
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.