When Dave collapsed in front of me I thought it
was the worst thing that could happen – but I
was wrong. He hadn’t made a will and I ended
up with nowhere to live.
We met through my work in a restaurant. He was really
easy to talk to, always interested and had a larger-than-
life smile. We met a number of times before he told me
he’d lost his wife, two years before, to cancer. He had
two grown up daughters, Sarah and Natalie.
We lived together in my rented flat for a couple of
months while he house-hunted. Eventually he bought
a place close to his business, and we had nine very
happy years and two sons together, Jon and Danny.
Then one evening he came back from jogging, came
into the kitchen where I was feeding Danny, and
collapsed. He died before the ambulance arrived.
I had stopped working when Jon was born, and since
Dave’s business was going strong, he had said he
would provide for us. We had talked a couple of times
about making a will; he knew what he wanted but never
wrote it down.
Because he hadn’t made a will everything was divided
equally between the four children. I was left with nothing.
Sarah and Natalie applied to become the administrators
of his estate, which means they have control over my
boys’ inheritance until they are 18. I had nowhere to live
because our family home was not in our joint names.
I had no money, except my small savings, and nowhere
I didn’t imagine things could get any worse. But then
one day I came home to find a note from my step
daughters. They had taken all of Dave’s belongings:
his clothes, shoes, photos and even the watch I’d given
him for his 45th birthday. The note also said they and
their grandmother, Dave’s mother, were arranging his
funeral. They would not accept any suggestions or
offers of my help. There was nothing I could do. I’m
sure Dave would have wanted me to be central to the
ceremony. If he’d made a will he could have said.
Once the dark days immediately after Dave’s death
passed, and the numbness subsided, I tried to cope
with the practicalities o