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Communtity Law Manual | Relationships & break-ups | What happens to a couple’s property when one of them has died

Dividing your property when you split up (“Relationship property”)

What happens to a couple’s property when one of them has died

Survivor must choose whether to apply for division under Property (Relationships) Act

Property (Relationships) Act 1976, Part 8

The Property (Relationships) Act also covers division of property when a relationship ends because a spouse or partner dies.

The surviving spouse or partner has to choose whether to apply for relationship property to be divided under the Act or whether to take what is left to them under the deceased’s will, if there is one, or under the intestacy rules in the Administration Act 1969, if there’s no will (see the chapter “Wills”).

If a surviving spouse or partner makes a claim under the Act, this takes precedence over any other person’s claim under inheritance law. This recognises that one spouse or partner should not be able to give away the other spouse’s or partner’s share of relationship property in their will.

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