If you’d been in a happy relationship with your partner for close to three decades, you’d think they’d leave you something pretty meaningful and substantial in their will, right? Wrong.
One man in New Zealand has been left “upset” and “betrayed” after his long-term partner died and only left him her ashes in her will. Steven Moon had been with Mary Doyle for 27 years and cared for her towards the end of her life when she was diagnosed with cancer. She’d also faced a series of other health battles throughout the relationship and was in a wheelchair.
Moon was so shocked Doyle failed to leave him a cent in her will that he took the matter to Auckland’s High Court to try to claw back some of the money she’d bequeathed her family. According to Stuff.co.nz, Moon argued the pair were in a de facto relationship and as such, he should be entitled to her wealth.
Speaking in court, Moon explained he “felt used” when he read Doyle’s will and saw he’d only been left her ashes, while other family members had been left houses and money.
“I feel betrayed by her,” Stuff.co.nz reported Moon saying. “It was as if I was nobody in her life. I had spent nearly every day with her for 27 years, except for two and a half weeks when I was in hospital and some sort trips to the South Island.”
As such, Justice Grant Powell ordered Moon to be paid NZ$300,000 (AU$275,343, US$211,080) out of Doyle’s estate. At an earlier hearing, Doyle’s older brother Patrick Doyle acknowledged the relationship between Moon and his sister, but opposed Moon laying claim to her entire estate. He questioned whether his sister would have considered her relationship with Moon as de facto and whether he was entitled to any of her money.
The court heard how Doyle had significant health issues for a lot of the relationship which Moon assisted her with. While the pair slept at separate houses, Moon would cook Doyle dinner, do her chores and assisted her with her wheelchair. Moon also claimed the pair shared a sexual relationship.
Despite this, Doyle defined her relationship with moon as a “friendship” in legal documents, while her brother argued the pair didn’t share assets, didn’t live together and that she marked herself as “single” on all legal other legal documents.
In her will, Doyle said she was leaving herself to Moon and described her ashes as “the most precious thing”. She also thanked Moon for being there for her throughout her illness. Despite protest from Doyle’s family, Justice Powell ruled the pair were in a de facto relationship and had developed a relationship that worked for them, despite Doyle’s health conditions.
The judge’s ruling meant Doyle’s home would need to be sold to pay Moon, made all the more difficult because the home was left to her brother, Patrick.