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Avoiding disputes after the death of an unmarried parent

When considering whether to make a will, some people believe it would be an unnecessary expense on the basis that “everything goes to my children anyway.”

However, when an unmarried parent dies without having made a will, the person with the right to administer the estate is usually the surviving parent of the deceased’s minor children. This can cause huge difficulties for other family members if the parents of the child were no longer in a relationship.

Essentially, the remaining family members could be left in a position in which their deceased relative’s ex-partner has the ability to enter a property, collect in money and deal with assets of the estate including the deceased’s personal belongings such as clothes, jewellery and photographs.

In these circumstances difficulties could arise if family members seek to have a memento of the person who has passed away, such as an item which might have sentimental value. As administrator of the estate, the ex-partner could refuse to allow any items to be passed to family members other than the children.

In addition, the ex-partner could issue proceedings against other family members for delivery up of any items belonging to the deceased which they might hold.

Therefore, to minimise the risk of these types of disputes arising, it is always better to make a will to appoint an executor to deal with your estate, especially if you have children from a previous relationship.