Considering Unmarried Partners in New Jersey/New York Estate Planning

When planning for the future and determining whether to create a will, the legal status of your relationship with your partner could have a large effect on your decision. Though many unmarried couples describe their relationships as “common law marriages,” believing the term gives them certain marital rights, nearly all states in the United States, including New Jersey and New York, do not recognize common law marriages.

A common law marriage usually refers to a long-term relationship in which the two people have lived together for many years while “holding themselves out as,” or acting as though they were, spouses without ever performing a ceremony or receiving a marriage license. Numerous states previously recognized these relationships as legally equivalent to a marriage, but only a handful of states still do so. New York stopped recognizing the validity of common law marriages in 1933, and New Jersey did the same in 1939.

When someone passes without a will, known as dying “intestate,” the state in which he or she resided will divide the remaining assets according to its intestacy laws. These laws generally provide sufficiently for a surviving spouse. But in the case of unmarried couples, there is a real potential for a surviving partner to receive nothing, regardless of the duration or nature of that person’s relationship with the decedent. In these circumstances, the absolute best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is drafting a valid will that leaves exactly what you wish to your partner.

Contact Giro Attorneys at Law, LLP Today

If you are wondering whether a will is the right choice for you, a skilled attorney can help you understand your options. Contact Giro Attorneys at Law, LLP, at (201) 690-1642 today to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced attorneys.


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