My common-law partner died. What legal issues do I need to know about?

Last reviewed June 2024 by the Clicklaw editors

In general, the law treats common-law relationships very similarly to marriage relationships. However, there are some key differences, especially when it comes to limitation periods, which are the deadlines for making certain legal claims. Although being in a common-law relationship means that you and your partner qualify as spouses under many laws, “spouse” is defined differently by different laws. This difference may affect your rights and eligibility for certain benefits.

Helpful resources

  • When Your Common-Law Spouse Dies (People’s Law School): This covers issues such as pension and survivor benefits, your rights and the rights of any children from the relationship, and custody and guardianship of the children.
  • Common-Law Couples (Legal Aid BC): This has a section called “What happens if your common-law partner dies?” It provides an overview of issues such as bank accounts, inheritance rights, and pension benefits.

Helpful services

  • Lawyer Referral Service (Access Pro Bono): This service offers a free, brief initial consultation with a lawyer to determine your legal needs. If you would like further help from your lawyer, you can retain them at a rate you both agree to.
  • Find more services.