If you are in a de facto union and your spouse dies, you will not be legally recognized as your spouse's heir. The same applies, in reverse, if you die.

However, you and your spouse can take certain steps to protect the surviving spouse, for example by making a will or taking out life insurance.


If you wish to leave some of your property to your de facto spouse, such as your share of the family home, you must specify this in your will.

If nothing is mentioned in your will, your property will be divided between your heirs using the rules of succession. Your de facto spouse could end up as a co-owner of your home with your children or parents.

Life insurance

If you have life insurance and wish your de facto spouse to benefit if you die, you must designate him or her as your beneficiary.

If you fail to do this, the proceeds from your life insurance policy will form part of your succession and will be shared between your heirs, who are blood relatives such as your children or parents.

Other steps

You and your de facto spouse should take other steps to protect the surviving spouse if one of you dies. For example, you should:

  • prepare an inventory of your personal property and debts;
  • keep a personal bank account, because your joint account will be frozen until the succession is settled;
  • clearly establish who owns any property (such as cash or jewelry) you keep in a safety deposit, for example by preparing an inventory.  
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