Fears over partner's flat

I live with my partner who bought the flat before I was with her.

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I am wondering if I can be put out of the house if she dies. She does not have a will, is legally still married but her ex left her (i.e this was the marital home) before I came to stay. Does he - the ex - have a claim on anything?

First of all your partner should make a will. If you split up she can tear up the will. But as things stand as there is no will her husband and any children will share the estate. Under the Family Law Act you as cohabitant can make a court claim for financial provision after partner's death, and it will be up to the sheriff to decide what you get, depending on how long you have lived together, what sort of relationship you had, and what sort of arrangements you had made about money.

I was the victim of an assault last year. The attacker was found guilty - I had to give evidence in court - and the court awarded me £400 compensation. To date he has paid nothing and the court appears unable to enforce the award. Can I sue him?

A criminal compensation like this is not like a criminal injuries compensation award which is paid from state funds. It is more like a fine. The court has the authority to insist on payment, but if your man fails to pay, the final sanction is to jail him.

Very often fines and compensation orders are to be paid in instalments, and it takes the court months to bring a non-payer back to court to answer for his inaction. Criminals know this and come up with all sorts of sob stories.

I suggest you write to the judge of the court that imposed the order and ask for an explanation as to the lack of progress. You could sue him for civil damages but that would take a long time and have no guarantee of success - with no sanction of jailing him.

I am in my early 70s. I made my will leaving my share of our bought house to my wife. I now also find I can leave her £10,000, but I want to make sure she doesn't just waste it, and there is something left for our children and grandchildren later on. Can I leave it in trust or something?

There are a few options including a trust, though that would probably be too involved and complex. But as you have grown-up children, you could put the money in a joint account with no withdrawals to be made by your wife alone, but by co-signature with one of the children.

Going through my late father's estate and paperwork, we came across a signed IOU by a friend in his name, dated just days before he came to live with us a few years ago. We know that no effort was ever made to repay this £1000 so can we still pursue the debt after all this time?

Yes, the executor of your mum's will or estate can do so (if no will appointing one, you as a child of the deceased can assume this position). Watch out, the debt may prescribe - i.e be no longer enforceable- after five years, so get moving on it.

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