A De Facto relationship is essentially a relationship between two people who are not married or related by family and the couple is living together on a ‘genuine domestic basis’.
You can recognise your de facto relationship by registering it in your State/Territory however a lot of people do not realise that legally they are considered to be in such a relationship and what that means for them. It can even exist if one of the persons is legally married to someone else or in another de facto relationship.
The Courts consider a number of factors to determine if a de facto relationship exists which can include any or all of the following: duration of the relationship, nature and extent of living arrangements, sexual nature of the relationship, the degree of financial dependence or interdependence, ownership and use of assets, degree of mutual commitment, care and support of children, reputation and public aspects of the relationship.
The Family Law Act 1975 sees de facto relationships as equally valid as marriage therefore entering or exiting a de facto relationship can respectively affect how your estate can be distributed, and the validity of an existing will.
Being in a de facto relationship can entitle your partner to a share of your property and assets if not specified otherwise in your will.
If you pass away without a Will, an administrator will distribute your estate and your de facto spouse may be entitled to your assets or a share of them.
It can be more complex if a valid Will does exist. The existence and ending of a de facto relationship can be harder to substantiate than a divorce in marriage. A de facto spouse may be entitled to the assets of the estate or a portion of them and has the right to contest a Will if they believe they are not adequately provided for. In Queensland, the breakdown of a de facto relationship can have the same effect on a Will as a divorce including the revocation of entitlements unless otherwise specified.
It is important to discuss and seek advice on your arrangements to ensure your assets and other family members are protected.
Contact the experienced team at Marino Lawyers today to discuss preparing or updating your will.