Where doI stand if my boyfriend died and the house was in his name?

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Where doI stand if my boyfriend died and the house was in his name?

My boyfriend of 5 years passed 3 days ago but he had no Will. He owned the house. When I moved in there wasn’t anything; we paid for eveything in the house together. He had told his family that his last wish was for me and my 8 year-old grandson to stay here until I pass on. We were to get married in 3 months. I feel that his family will come in here and take everything that we built together and put me and my grandchild out into the streets.

Asked on March 20, 2011 under Estate Planning, Indiana

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You need to immediately hire an attorney. If you were engaged, talk to the lawyer to see if Indiana has any sort of common law marriage law. If it doesn't, find out (search around in the computer, in your house, on the cell phones, emails, paper, anything) to show that he wished for you and your grandson to have the home and contents therein. If you have witnesses (non-family and family witnesses), talk to them to give notarized statements to help you. Further, anything you bought together should really be yours because this is not necessarily a gift to the family and you might be able to simply show this was a mutual purchase or solely a purchase by you to be used by you, your grandson and the boyfriend/fiance.

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss. Technically what he granted you was a life estate in the house but generally speaking any transactions involving real property have to be in writing to be valid. The same requirement is in effect for oral or what is known as Nuncapative Wills. However, Indiana does recognize oral wills (nuncapative) in limited circumstances. A nuncapative will is only valid if the testator is in imminent peril of death, declared before two witnesses, subsequently reduced to writing by at least one of them, presented to the probate court within 6 months of the testator's death and does not dispose of property of more than $1,000 in value.  Otherwise, he dies intestate and you unfortunately will not inherit under the statutes.  Please, though, try and find documentation as to things purchased by you to prove ownership.  You may want to speak with an attorney soon.  Good luck.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately for you, your boyfriend's last wish has no legal effect--only an actual will, properly created, witnessed, etc., would control. Similarly, a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship has no legal effect, nor does being engaged to be married. In short, as unfair as it may be, you don't have any right to the house (if he owned it himself and you were not a co- or joint owner). If you can prove that you helped pay for belongings in the house (e.g. appliances and furniture), you may be able to establish a claim to them; if, for example, you paid 1/2 the price, for a bedroom set, it may be the case that you would be entitled to compensation for that set, but even that is not a given; the presumption will be that it is is owned outright by a whomever's name was on the receipts or invoice, whomever's credit card or check was used to pay for it, etc. Failing evidence of payment, the presumption will be that furniture, etc. belonging to the person who owned the house; you will need to be able to prove your contribution or payment to try to establish a claim.


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