Many people might assume that the terms outlined in a will or a trust are always clear and able to be followed or implemented without issue. That, however, is far from the truth. There are many factors that can leave the provisions of a person’s will up for interpretation, opening the door to conflicts and legal battles that may take a long time to reach any resolution. One example of this can be seen in the case of a couple who died in 2016 less than two weeks apart.
The daughter of one of the partners in the couple has been involved in a legal battle over some of the assets in her mother’s partner’s will. One court handed down an initial decision ruling against the daughter but now an appeal has been initiated in the matter. According to The New York Times, the daughter’s mother had been in a same-sex relationship with her partner from the time she was in her mid-50s until her death at the age of 76. Her partner preceded her in death by 12 days. The couple never married and this fact appears to play a role in the dispute over the partner’s will.
The partner’s will outlined the distribution of several highly valuable assets to multiple people, stipulating that the beneficiaries should outlive her by a minimum of 30 days. Remaining assets were to be split between three different charitable organization. Since the partner did not live more than 30 days after her death, some assert that her portion of the estate belongs to the charities.
The daughter, however, asserts that the two women should be considered common law spouses and, as such, the surviving common law spouse should still inherit the estate and that estate be passed on to her daughter.