How is an estate distributed when the deceased had a secret affair?

The law only allows us to have one registered marriage in our lifetime. But when we pass away, the rules are a bit different when it comes to distributing our estate.

If a person is married and also has a de facto partner at the time of their death, they may be deemed to have two spouses. Each spouse will be entitled to a share of the deceased’s estate.

A person will have a de facto partner if they are living together with another person as a couple on a genuine domestic basis for at least two years before their death. It is therefore possible for a person to have two spouses on their death.

If the deceased did not have a will, the spouses generally have to come to a written agreement on how the estate is to be distributed between them. If a written agreement cannot be reached due to understandable animosity between the spouses, the Court will then decide how the estate is to be distributed.

If the deceased did have a will, and the will excluded either their married spouse or their de facto spouse, the excluded spouse can apply to the Court for a share of the estate. The shares to be given to each spouse will depend on their individual circumstances.

If you have an estates dispute and need some advice, contact McLaughlins, your estate dispute lawyers on the Gold Coast.