‘Am I entitled to my de facto partner’s assets, even if I’m not in his will?’

Aug 30, 2019
Brian Herd attempts to shed some 'legal light' on the grey area that is de facto relationships. Source: Pexels.

Q. I was living as a de facto with my partner for 13 years, but since 2018, I moved into my town house on the Gold Coast due to him being nasty and treating me badly. He sometimes comes to stay with me and I sometimes go back to his house. We still travel together. I live on the Gold Coast in Queensland and he lives in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales.

What would I be entitled to from his assets if he were to pass before me? He has left everything to his two daughters as far as I know. He did make a will out many years ago before I came into his life but I don’t think he has renewed it since.

A. You are in that twilight legal zone known as ‘de facto relationships’. You can usually prove ‘marriage’ with a piece of paper but de facto relationships can only usually be proved by conduct, which is always open to dispute. In Australia, if you are, as defined by the law, someone’s de facto on their death, and they haven’t provided for you in their will, you may be able to challenge their will. However, it all comes down to whether you satisfy the applicable definition of de facto and, in your case as well, whether it is the law of New South Wales or Queensland that would apply.

It’s all a bit iffy, both because of that and the way you currently conduct your relationship, which appears to be more on a part-time basis. You are in a very grey zone and I suggest you obtain good legal advice, if for no other reason but to help you see the ‘legal light’.

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