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Common Questions

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

Last reviewed in October 2020 by 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 Services Society, 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?

  • 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.
  • Lawyer Referral Service, from Access Pro Bono, offers a free initial consultation with a lawyer for up to 30 minutes.
  • Find more help near you on Clicklaw HelpMap.

See our related common questions:

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