Tom Doyle and his partner Bill Cornwall were together for decades, and shared a brownstone in New York City's West Village for 55 years.
When Cornwall passed away two years ago, at 88, he left Doyle the home in his will. Unfortunately, because the couple never married legally, and because the will was only witnessed by one person, rather than the two legally required by law, Doyle is now being fought tooth and nail for the home the couple shared together by Cornwall's many nieces and nephews.
Although the pair had purchased wedding rings, they never legally wed. After decades together, by the time marriage equality became a reality in New York State, "going to City Hall to get married felt like a strain," reports the New York Times, noting that Cornwall was suffering from heart problems at the time.
The nieces and nephews are disputing the fact that their uncle wanted the building to go to his partner, and have listed the three-storey, four-unit building on the market for over US$7 million.
“I’m not so concerned about the money," said Doyle, who is now 85. "I’m more concerned about a roof over my head for the rest of my life, and I wouldn’t have to be in a nursing home. As long as I am here, I have all the familiar surroundings. It’s almost as if Bill is still here.”
Carole DeMaio, one of Cornwall's nieces, suggested that her uncle never wanted the building to go to his partner, as "he had 50 years to put Tom’s name on any of these papers”. She also suggested that the pair were just "friends" or "great companions", rather than a couple.
“It’s as if I’ve been deserted," said Doyle, of his once-extended family members. “I don’t hate them, but they are fighting over what is legally mine and Bill’s.’’
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