A bereaved woman takes her partner’s estranged wife to court over a house she owned with her late partner.

Is your Will up-to-date? For the 1/3rd who have actually made a Will there is some suggestion that at least 50% of these Wills are not relevant for the current circumstances of the person who made it. The following is a case in point:

Joy Williams, 69, had lived with her partner Norman Martin until his 2012 heart attack in the property they had owned as tenants in common since 2009.

As Mr Martin failed to either update his will or divorce his wife, his share of the £320,000 Dorset property passed to his estranged wife, 73 year old Maureen Martin.

Mr Martin’s partner Ms Joy Williams wanted the remaining 50% share of the property (she already owed her own 50% as tenants-in-common) in order to grant her some financial security as she had had no means of support since Mr Martin died. At a hearing on Tuesday 16th February, Judge Nigel Gerald ruled in her favour.

Speaking after the hearing, Ms Joy Williams said: “I am relieved and delighted that this case is finally over because it has taken a huge toll on me and my family. I was with Norman for 18 years and those were very happy times. I loved him, he loved me and I still treasure his memory.

“All I wanted was for the Court to recognise that I needed to have his share of the house that was our home to provide me with some security for my future and this judgement has done just that. I believe that that is what Norman would have wanted for me. The judge’s decision means I can now stay in my home and my future is much more secure as I have the freedom to sell the property in the future when I need to.

“What has been traumatic for me is that this level of serious relationship is not currently recognised by the law and I therefore had to bring this claim in court to achieve some security and to obtain this result. I hope my situation raises awareness for others to consider their own financial position in relation to their partner and consider whether they need to take advice to protect their each other in future.”

Mrs Martin, the estranged wife, had argued that her and her husband had had a “complicated” relationship for the last eighteen years of his life. Mr and Mrs Martin’s daughter Louise described her mother as a “loyal, faithful wife.” The judge ordered the widowed Mrs Martin to pay costs of £100,000 within 42 days.

Alan Porter, from The Will Centre, says “This case shows the effect of not keeping your current Will up-to-date or making a Will if your circumstances change. The judge decided that Joy should own her partner’s share of the home they shared.

There is no such thing as a common law husband or wife and couples who live together do not automatically have the same rights as a married couple or those in a civil partnership. Unmarried couples who live together should have co-habitation agreements in place outlining who owns property and how bills are divided. People should also ensure that their wills are up to date and reflect their wishes, particularly if their circumstances or relationships change.

If your Will is out of date or you do not have one then call 01752 607040 or email facebook@thewillcentre.com for details of our Will writing service.