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What housing protection is there for the surviving spouse ?

1. The lifetime right to housing

Unless the deceased has decided otherwise, the surviving spouse has the right to remain for life in the main family home belonging to both spouses or wholly dependent on the estate, if they so wishe within one year of the death. If the dwelling was rented, the surviving spouse has an exclusive right to the lease and a right of use over the furniture in it.

However, this life interest is not free, as it is valued and deducted from the surviving spouse's rights in their husband's estate. If its value is less than the surviving spouse's share, they will receive an additional share of the existing assets in the estate. On the other hand, if its value exceeds the surviving spouse's entitlement, the surviving spouse will not have to "reimburse" the estate for this excessive benefit.

2. Annual right to housing

A surviving spouse who does not opt for the lifetime right to housing is still protected by the annual right to housing, which their spouse cannot deprive them of. The surviving spouse is entitled to use the home and its furniture freely for one year from the date of death. If the home was rented, the estate must reimburse the spouse for the rent as and when it is paid.