Reasons for judgement were released recently in the case Li v. Ellison. The judgement took only a little over two pages to complete!
The story goes like this. The deceased was born in 1938 and died in early 2012, at age 75. From his marriage, which ended in the early-1980s, he had two children. He made a Will in 1999, in which he bequeathed his Estate to his children and grandchildren.
In 2004, he began cohabiting with a woman, recently emigrated from China, and though she cared for the deceased in the last years of his life, she was also employed and did not leave her job. There was no dispute that she was a “spouse” and that their relationship lasted about 8 years.
Some assets were passed to the children before the deceased died. The Estate was valued in the range of $480,000 to $600,000.
The Court considered the legal and moral duties that the deceased owed his spouse, and quickly concluded that an appropriate award for the spouse was the greater of $155,000, or 2/7th of the Estate.
Though the Court saw the relationship as lengthy, it was significant that the spouse kept her employment throughout, and earned an annual income of around $75,000 in the later years of the relationship. The duties owed her by the deceased were held to be modest.
In my opinion, the deceased should have made a Will. However, the decision seems to be a fair one.
This ad ran in the Richmond Review on March 28, 2014.