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Common Questions

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

Last reviewed in March 2023 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, 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:

  • When Your Common-Law Spouse Dies, from People's Law School, covers issues such as pension and survivor benefits, your rights and the rights of any children from the relationship, as well as custody and guardianship of the children.
  • Common-law Couples, from the Legal Aid BC, 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.

Need more help?

See our related common questions:

common-law relationship, death of a loved one, unmarried spouses, right of survivorship