Gransnet forums

Care & carers

ex carers not married abandoned after death of a partner

(34 Posts)
poormare Tue 06-Jan-15 02:25:53

hello i just would like to tell my story if you would be kind enough to read it. i lived with my partner for thirty eight years and looked after him for eleven years after he suffered two major strokes. he died suddenly at the end of may and because we werent married i was not entitled to any bereavement payments or any financial help whatsoever. when he was alive we received benefits as a couple but as soon as he died i was treated as a single person and couldnt even sign for his cremation. i was allowed carers allowance for eight weeks and then had to sign on i am living on fifty two pound a week as i am paying off a funeral debt of twenty pound a week. i am sixty one so fall into the category where i cant get pension credit till i am sixty three. i looked after my partner twenty four hours a day willingly but feel totally abandoned now. i would just like to warn other couples who are not married you will receive no help whatsoever if your partner dies and i would wish my situation on anyone. not only am i grieving desperately im also living in misery with terrible financial worries. thanks for reading

absent Tue 06-Jan-15 05:06:28

poormare What an appalling situation. I am sorry to say that in the UK the way it is is that marriage is a legally binding contract with mutual rights and responsibilities, but living together has no such legal weight, however long you have been together and however committed your relationship – and yours obviously was. (There is no legal recognition of the term "common law" wife/husband.) It is not so in other countries. There are many long-standing, loving couples who "can't be bothered with the piece of paper", but the piece of paper is terribly important in such sad and very distressing situations such as yours. My heart goes out to you but I am afraid that you are well and truly screwed. Condolences for your sad loss and good wishes for a brighter future.

vampirequeen Tue 06-Jan-15 06:32:40

This is a terrible situation and my heart goes out to you.

Are you definitely getting all the benefits you are entitled to? Here is a link to Turn2Us which will help you to check.

Can you renegotiate the funeral payments? You are paying far more than you can afford. Talk to a free debt management charity such as StepChange.

ninathenana Tue 06-Jan-15 07:07:47

I have no wise words to help you but I wanted to express my condolences on the loss of your partner and sympathise with your financial situation.

tiggypiro Tue 06-Jan-15 09:37:31

I am so very sorry you find yourself in this situation poormare. It was for all the reasons you state that I was very pleased that my friend and her partner of 30+ years went very quietly and got the 'piece of paper'. Her partner had never divorced his first wife and never made a will so had anything happened to him my friend would have been left with absolutely nothing - not even much pension as she had never had a 'proper job'. It was not until his wife died that they got married and at least now she has security.

annsixty Tue 06-Jan-15 09:59:29

I also sympathise and can relate through the experience of a friend. Her partner died in October and she was devastated when she wasn't allowed to register his death. She is fortunate in that he left her everything in his will, he had no family, but both his pensions finished when he died and she will stuggle to keep the house on her small pension. There was nothing to stop them marrying they just "never got round to it" in 23 years.

soontobe Tue 06-Jan-15 10:33:54

I dont think people realise all the things on this thread.
I think it is a good thing to have written it.
I am sorry for your loss and your predicament.

Gracesgran Tue 06-Jan-15 11:06:50

I am so sorry that you are in this place at the moment poormare. I heard some statistics the other day which said something like a third of young women - I think 18-35 - believe there is such a thing as common law marriage so this will keep happening to people - mainly women - unless something is done.

I have always found it strange that only the government is allowed to treat the income of an unmarried couple as belonging to them both although the law doesn't. Although it would not help you I strongly believe they should either continue treating household income as belonging to both partners but bring in a law to say that there are legal benefits similar to the common law ones many think exist after, say, two years or they should treat the unmarried or uncivil partnered as individuals. As always the government has it both ways.

I do hope you are getting as much help as possible. If you can summon up the energy - which could be difficult I know coming from where you are at the moment - I would make it your job to contact your local Carers association, Age UK, CAB and anyone who could help. If you were ever in the forces (or your partner was) contact the Royal British Legion. They may not be able to help but they may be able to point you in the right direction.

crun Tue 06-Jan-15 13:47:55

I'm sorry to hear your sad story, it reminds me of a GF I went out with about 30 years ago.

She and a partner had been buying a house together when he suddenly had an accident that left him in a coma. That resulted in a similar Kafkaesque situation: he wasn't dead, so she couldn't sell the house without his signature, but she couldn't afford the mortgage on her own, either.

I forget how it ended after all this time, but by the time she was going out with me she was back living with her parents.

Anya Tue 06-Jan-15 14:01:33

That's very sad poormare and brave of you to post. If there's nothing can be done to help you cope financially then perhaps you could use a listening ear to help you through the very real grief you are feeling just now (((hugs))))

loopylou Tue 06-Jan-15 14:15:12

Very sad*poormare*, and I send my heartfelt condolences.
As others have said, this is going to affect many, many more women unless the government changes the law.
It is easy when younger to think that it won't happen or 'common law' wife applies. I have several friends living with partners who could well end up in the same situation.
Truly sorry I can't be of more help, (((hugs))) x

Riverwalk Tue 06-Jan-15 14:22:31

You must be feeling very low after losing your partner of 38 years and it must have been a hard 11 years caring for him after the strokes. flowers

As a divorcee, not a widow, I'm not familiar with what a 'widow' would receive in the way of finances as compared to a 'partner'. I do know that not all company pensions provide for a widow so you may not have received that anyway.

You say after his death you were treated as a single person for benefits, but surely that would apply to anyone?

What happened to your late partner's estate - did a former wife or children inherit?

bikergran Tue 06-Jan-15 15:43:25

poormare as OP have need to ask for some help..Stepchange Debt Charity are relaly good...£20 a week is far too much for you to be paying out of what is jobseekers I presume you are claiming.

annsixty Tue 06-Jan-15 16:21:21

I told my friend today about this thread,see my post above, and she reminded me that when she went to the appointment with a relative of her partner as she had been advised, she was allowed to register the death as she had been present.I wouldn't like to mislead anybody with that information.

Eloethan Wed 07-Jan-15 00:43:13

poormare I'm so sorry that you have had such a sad time and now are facing financial difficulties.

I agree with others who have suggested you get some advice. I didn't think my mum was entitled to any additional money because she has capital but Age UK got some extra payments for her (and she did make full disclosure of the capital she has).

I do hope you can get some help and things will soon look up for you.

rubylady Wed 07-Jan-15 01:30:29

Is it true that if you are unmarried and have children and if the mother dies, then the father has no right over the children even if named on the certificate or have I got that wrong?

I am so sorry for your loss, it must be terrible for you to be put in this awful financial position while you are grieving so much for your partner. My heart goes out to you, take care. flowers

FlicketyB Wed 07-Jan-15 06:59:59

I truly have every sympathy for the predicament poormare finds herself in but the lack of legal rights of a couple living together rather than being married are well known and well publicised. If there were good reasons why poormare and her partner could not or chose not to marry they could and should have drawn up wills and other legal documents giving her rights as next-of-kin and inheritance rights.

As far as benefits go, everyone gets treated as a single person after their spouse dies. Except for the bereavement payment there is no special treatment for someone who used to be part of a couple, married or not and has lost their partner through death.

The lack of entitlement to benefits, inheritance, and to be considered next-of-kin of unmarried partners is widely known, discussed in newspapers and on radio and television and can be checked at CABs, and advice centres countrywide. If some people, including a significant number of younger people put their heads in the sand and either fail to absorb this information or take steps to ameliorate it by making wills and other legal arrangements then surely that is their choice and responsibility and while I can feel personal sympathy for an individual, their plight is surely one they have chosen.

Leticia Wed 07-Jan-15 07:30:55

I am very sorry for your loss and situation.
It does highlight a big problem. Many people don't see the need to marry and say 'it is only a piece of paper'. It is far, far more than that, which they don't realise until things go wrong. If you don't have it you need to visit a solicitor and get everything drawn up legally. It is a lot cheaper to have a trip to the registry office with 2 witnesses.
There was an article in the newspaper only last week saying that people imagine that living together gives them all sorts of protection. A solicitor said they had been visited by a woman who had separated from her long term partner- a wealthy man in the public eye- she said that she wanted to know what she was entitled to and appreciated it might take a couple of hours to go through. The solicitor said that it would take less than a couple of minutes- it was nothing!
If there is anyone reading this who doesn't have that 'bit of paper' they should make sure they have legal documentsm, if they can't or won't get married. When I went to my solicitor to update my will she said that she was responsible for 7 couples getting married that year- it is much the easier and cheaper option.

Grannyknot Wed 07-Jan-15 07:33:13

flickety that thought did cross my mind too, as sorry as I am for poormare. And 11 years of severe ill health is a long time.

Conversely, my MIL had happily been living with her partner for over 30 years, her daughter decided one summer that wouldn't it be wonderful if they got married, so romantic! And more or less organised the wedding and chivvied them along, I think my MIL was in her 70s by then, he was quite a bit younger. We did have a good party! But then there was a subsequent hooha because she lost her British Armed Forces widow's pension. Her now husband had no money of his own really and no one had thought about their joint income.

Gracesgran Wed 07-Jan-15 08:51:54

I thought even co-habiting would loose a service widows pension Grannyknot - I think that is true of only a few other pensions.

My almost SIL does not want to remarry and I do understand he had a terrible divorce from what appears to be a very avaricious women although I think his own stubbornness may have cost him too. Having said that his stubbornness was to get rights to equally parent his children which she seems to have "sold" him bit by bit. My problem is that my daughter's legal position may be affected because of his feelings for his x-wife and my DD could not have been more supportive. It has to be said that she appears to understand but I do wonder if she feels she has no choice.

They have, however, written their wills to cover this problem and have deeds of trust concerning the ownership of the house. I just worry that she may still be vulnerable.

Iam64 Wed 07-Jan-15 10:20:26

rubygran asks about father's "rights over the children" if they are unmarried and named 'on the certificate'.

The Children Act gives children rights, parents have responsibilities and duties. Unmarried father's can apply to the mags court for Parental Responsibility. I've never known it be refused, even on the rare occasion when a mother has objected.
Children have a right to grow up knowing both their parents and the law enshrines that.

Grannyknot Wed 07-Jan-15 10:28:26

gracesgran I don't know the exact details, I just remember the flurry and the fuss ...but she lost out on a pension. Her first husband had been in the RAF and discharged due to being injured on duty.

GillT57 Wed 07-Jan-15 11:37:20

I agree with FlicketyB, lots of sympathy for poormare, but why on earth didn't they just get married quietly when he was so ill, it would have taken care of a lot of things? We have a similar situation with a distant cousin who has just died after a long drawn out illness which he knew was terminal. For some reason, he didn't marry his long term partner who is the mother of their children. This has left his partner with no rights to the home they shared for 15 years and even left her residence in doubt as she is a non eu national. I know he is dead, but can't help feeling exasperated and even angry with the situation he has left his family in. If one good thing comes out of this terrible situation that poormare finds herself in, then maybe it is that others will be warned about the necessity of that sneered at and dismissed 'little piece of paper'. Hope you find some help from AgeUk or Cruse. flowers

Faye Wed 07-Jan-15 16:44:33

The laws in Australia are very different. Living together and marriage are considered the same, which protects those who prefer not to marry. But.... I don't like it, if you want to put everything you have together then get married. Many defacto couples especially in later life and established with assets such as a house and possibly children from a first marriage, don't want to share their assets with their partner after only a few years or at all. You can end up losing half your house and every thing you own to a partner of five years.

I am sorry for your predicament poormare. flowers

poormare Thu 08-Jan-15 03:58:59

hi hi aww thank you for your kind messages and all your interesting comments. i do appreciate them all, i just have a few points i would like to make. 1. if you are married or in a civil partnership and your partner dies you are entitled to a bereavement payment and widows pension which is totally as it should be. if you are partners and your partner dies you are entitled to nothing even though you are treated as a couple by the dhss for monetary purposes as soon as one of you dies this ceases by the same agency which i think is unfair. 2. due to the nature of my partners illness we were unable to marry if we had wanted to which i am not blaming anyone for it was entirely up to ourselves before he became ill not to marry.
3. we didnt have anything or any money so there was no problem with any estate or monies.
4. the attending funeral director on hearing that we had been dependent on benefits deemed that a thousand pound deposit would have to be payed as there would be no guarantee the dhss would grant full payment which by the way they didnt. no where near and i have to say he even mentioned a paupers yes a paupers funeral.
5. i did go to the cab who informed me that a loan was my only option and that i should get in touch with the social fund.
6. i already had taken a loan to buy my partner a special mattress to stop pressure sores and because he had become incontinent so i knew they wouldnt give me another loan.
7. my reason for the first post was to warn people to certainly get married or sort things out legally death is like a thief comes quietly and devastatingly.
8. i was allowed to obtain the death certificate but not to sign for cremation as i was not a blood relative.
9. ive learnt that there are some really wonderful people in this world they far far outweigh the truly awful.
10. i just hope this helps even one person to not have to go through the nightmare i have at a time when you are at your lowest, weakest, and most vunerable. peace and love to you all xxxxxxx