Who would get the house if my partner dies without a will?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Who would get the house if my partner dies without a will?

I have been living with my partner girlfriend for 20 years. She owns the house and has no living relatives. She refuses to get a will. Our bank accounts are joined and the house has been my legal address for 20 years. She pays the mortgage through the shared bank accounts. She does not make enough money to cover the mortgage and expenses on her own, the money comes mostly from my salary. Since I am not named as an owner in any way, if she should pass, would I be able to remain in the house? Would I be able to have the title put in my name? Or would I be asked to vacate by the mortgage company since I am not named even though I would be able to continue paying the bills?

Asked on December 14, 2016 under Estate Planning, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Being partners does not convey any legal rights to the home. If there is no will and you are not on the title, then when she passes, you will *not* get the house, and will have no right to have the title transferred to your name. If there are no living relatives, the house will go to the state (escheat), though note: estates (what is left behind by the deceased, including the house) can go to quite distant relatives in your state--it will pass at need to heirs of your partner's grandparents, which can include include people your partner has never had contact with (or possibly even heard of), unless it is foreclosed upon by the lender for nonpayment of mortgage. 
There is no circumstance in which it will go you: the house will go to lender or distant relative, or possibly even the state, but not you. You have no legal standing to get it, and the fact that you have been or are willing to pay bills does not change that.
To be protected, your partner needs to either put you on title now, or draft a will leaving the home to you.

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