If my boyfriend and I lived together for 6 1/2 years and he recently passed away, can I lose my belongings that are in the place we rented together?

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If my boyfriend and I lived together for 6 1/2 years and he recently passed away, can I lose my belongings that are in the place we rented together?

His son is going to go through probate to get in charge of his dad’s things. Some things i have receipts for and other things i do not like furniture or knick knacks. Also, if I have ownership papers for TV’s that and we bought that are in both are names, are they legally mine?

Asked on January 11, 2015 under Estate Planning, New Hampshire

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

IF they are yours, then they are still yours: a boyfriend/girlfriend couple, even when they live together, do not automatically pool or share their belongings the way a married couple do. The issue may be not one of your legal rights, but of proof--proving what was yours and what was his. Receipts are invaluable for that purpose.

Note, however, that regardless of who ultimately provided the money for an item, if the item is listed or titled as owned by both members of the couple, then your deceased boyfriend's estate has a claim on the item; basically, anything in both of your names was owned by both of you, and the estate (and any heirs or beneficiaries) are entitled to 1/2 the value. It may be possible to buy the other half of the item (so to speak) from the estate, for 1/2 it's *current* fair market value (not the original cost; and in the case of electronics, the current value is almost certainly much lower than the original price). And similarly, anything paid for by both of you, when there is no document or title indicating ownership, would again be 1/2 the estate's.

You may also be able to negotiate with the estate to give up your interest in items that have value (like furniture) but which you do not want, in exchange for complete interest in items you do want.


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