What are my rights if I had a 9-10 year relationship with a woman who just recently passed?

UPDATED: Oct 17, 2013

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What are my rights if I had a 9-10 year relationship with a woman who just recently passed?

During this time I have, of course, bought her many items such as jewelry, a computer, etc. Also during this time I cared for her home, in which I also lived with her off and on and currently reside. I maintained it, paid for improvements, paid the taxes once. I took care of this woman in sickness and health until her death 3 weeks ago. I guess she had a will made before we met. I have not seen it. She also had 5k in the home which she told her niece was for me in partial payment on her sons debt to me. Her son came into the house, took all the papers and the cash meant for me and is now laying claim to everything, including everything I bought and paid for. What can I do?

Asked on October 17, 2013 under Estate Planning, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You have no rights to any of her belongings--including anything you gifted to her (since once gifted, they belong to the recipient)--unless she did will them to you; a nonmarital relationship does not create inheritance rights, and voluntarily paying taxes, etc. for someone else's home does not create rights in the home. Her belongings will pass by her will; or if she has no will, by intestate succession, which will be to her children, not to an unmarried romantic partner. Anything which you can prove was yours, not hers (e.g. say that the computer was actually your computer, but you let her use it), the son would have to return, though proving it was yours may be difficult.

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