Citizens Advice this week

Rights of cohabitants

Rights of cohabitants


I have been living with my partner for 10 years now. He was previously married and has two grown-up children. If he were to die, could I claim a widow’s pension, and what would happen to the house we live in, which he owns?


There is no social welfare pension for people whose partner dies. The Department of Social Protection may pay a pension to widows, widowers or surviving civil partners.

It is very important for yourself and your partner to make wills. If your partner dies without a will, you have no right to any share of his estate no matter how long you have been together.

Under a redress scheme for cohabiting couples you may apply for provision to be made from your partner’s estate. Where the partner dies in an existing relationship, you will not have to show that you are financially dependent on them.

In the case of a cohabiting couple where the surviving partner does not own the house that they live in, but inherits it, they may be liable for inheritance tax, unless they qualify for dwelling house tax exemption.

Your partner’s children can claim part of his estate if he does not make a will. If he does make a will they can only claim against the estate if the court considers that they have not been adequately provided for – this usually applies to younger children.

His former spouse may be legally entitled to a share of his estate even though they are separated or divorced.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Kilkenny Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 7910. Address: 4 The Parade, Kilkenny and at Callan, Graiguenamanagh and Mooncoin.

Information is also available online at and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000.