Common Questions

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

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, the deadlines for making certain legal claims. Also, 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.

Good starting points include:

Need more help?

  • If you have more questions or need further help, please see the Get Help services that are available via the Courthouse Libraries BC Wills Resources page.
  • Wills & Estates Q&A, from People's Law School, is a resource where volunteer legal professionals provide answers to questions from the public relating to wills and estates and dealing with a death. If you still can't find the answer, they give an option to submit your own question; every effort is made to provide an initial response within 2 business days and a fuller response within 2 weeks. 
  • Lawyer Referral Service, from the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch, offers an initial consultation of up to 30 minutes with a lawyer for $25.
  • Find more help near you on Clicklaw HelpMap.

See our related common questions:

Last reviewed November 2017
common-law relationship, death of a loved one, unmarried spouses, right of survivorship