If a couple was together for almost 40 years but never married, will the woman inherit property if stated so in the Will?

I’m asking on my father-in-law’s behalf. He is wondering if he were to get married to his partner (they have been together for almost 40 years), will she be entitled to the house when he passes? He is worried that if he doesn’t, she will be left with nothing. So he wants to know if they were to get married today and he died tomorrow, would she still be okay?

Asked on April 12, 2017 under Estate Planning, California


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The provisions of the Will are controlling.  Therefore, whether or not the couple is married, your father-in-law's partner inherits the house if there is a provision in the Will to that effect.
If there isn't any Will, then they need to be married because under intestate succession  (intestate means dying without a Will), the surviving spouse inherits the entire estate.  If they are not married, and there is no Will, she (your father-in-law's partner) inherits nothing because there isn't any surviving spouse.

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