A cohabiting partner’s rights after their partner dies
The rights and standing of a cohabiting partner who is windowed are weaker than those of a person who was married and then became windowed. The settling of financial affairs of cohabiting partners can involve a great deal of work especially if the deceased has not written a will. The living partner may wish to turn to a lawyer to help in figuring out any unclear issues regarding property. Persons with limited means can contact the Legal Aid Office for help.
You can inherit from the partner you lived with, if he/she has made out a last will and testament in which you are named. You will pay an inheritance tax for any property that you inherit.
If there is no will that benefits you, you will not inherit your partner’s property at all.
- If your cohabiting partner did not have a will, your partner’s children will be your partner’s heirs.
- If your cohabiting partner did not have a will or any children, your partner’s parents will be your partner’s heirs.
- If there is no will and your cohabiting partner’s parents have died, your partner’s siblings will be your partner’s heirs.
- If there is no will and your partner did not have any siblings, your partner’s aunts and uncles will be your partner’s heirs.
- If there is no will and none of the aforementioned relatives are alive, your partner’s property will go to the state.
However, as a cohabiting partner you may still be entitled to receive compensation from the estate for your contribution to you and your partner’s joint household.
You can also request probate. Any one of your partner’s heirs may also request this. When necessary, the separation of wealth can be carried out by an external administrator appointed by a district court.
If your cohabiting partner has children and the partner has written a will that benefits you, the children can demand their legal share of the inheritance meaning half of what each child would have gotten without the will.
The window(er)’s right to live in an owned residence does not apply to cohabiting partners. This means that unlike in a marriage, a cohabiting partner will not automatically have the right to remain in the couple’s mutual residence. If your partner’s heirs demand that you must move from your home for example for the division of their inheritance, you must move.
You can remain in your mutual home, if you reach an agreement on this with your partner’s possible heirs and you are financial able to purchase the residence entirely for yourself.
You can also remain in the mutual home, if your partner has willed it to you. Even then, you have to ensure that you can pay the inheritance tax on the share you have inherited.
You cannot use any of your partner’s personal finances before an estate inventory has been drawn up and your finances and property have been divided.
If you and your cohabiting partner had a joint account, which each could use independently, you retain the right to use the account. Your partner’s estate will become the other owner of the bank account. You and whoever else are stakeholders in the estate can request the freezing of funds until the estate inventory.
If your joint bank account is the kind that you can only use together, you cannot use the account at all before your partner’s estate inventory has been drawn up.
In order for you to get your share from an account that was in both your names, request the division of property.
If you have to use your own money from you own account, for example, to cover funeral costs, agree on all purchases and expenses in advance with your partner’s heirs. Keep all the receipts from your purchases and ensure that they are marked down in the estate inventory. You may get your money back from your partner’s estate, if the expenses are approved as being related to arranging their funeral.
You may be eligible for assistance from your partner’s estate, if your income has dropped as a result of your partner's death, and you need the assistance in order to be able to support yourself. You may be eligible for assistance given to the cohabiting partner, if
- your cohabitation has lasted at least five years or
- you have or have had a child together or had joint guardianship of a child.
If your cohabiting partner has died and you have become the single parent of children aged under 18, inform Kela of your status. A single parent will be paid an increased child allowance, and you may receive a general housing allowance if your income is low. You may also be given social assistance if you are having temporary difficulties with money.
Ask the Finnish Tax Administration whether you have the right to a tax deduction to changes in your financial situation.
Parish workers can help those who are going through difficult times even if you are not a member of the church.
No. If you live with your partner but are not married, you will not receive a spouse's pension, as it is only paid to people who were married or in a registered partnership.
If your cohabiting partner has died in an industrial accident or a traffic accident, compensation will be paid on accordance with accident insurance and traffic insurance. Find out from the Traffic Accident Board and the Accident Insurance Centre whether you have the right to financial support or to compensation for funeral costs.
An employee’s group life insurance policy will pay a one-time sum of compensation the purpose of which is to guarantee the immediate financial wellbeing of the employee’s partner and children. A wife/husband or cohabiting partner has the right to this compensation if they have or had a child with the insured person or had a maintenance agreement in place with the insured that an authority has verified. If you and your partner did not have any children together, you as a cohabiting partner do not have the right to compensation.
All the deceased person's children are equal in status as direct heirs of the estate. It will make no difference whether the children were born to a married couple or cohabiting partners.
If your partner has a will that benefited you and some of his/her children, all the direct heirs will still have the right to their legal share. This means that a direct descendant can demand half of what the partner has inherited if there is no will.