Do you need a Will if 2 people have lived together over 20 years unmarried and 1 of them dies?

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Do you need a Will if 2 people have lived together over 20 years unmarried and 1 of them dies?

They lived together shared all items as if married. Both have said you get everything if I pass first.

Asked on June 20, 2019 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Unless the couple was married, they have no legal relationship. Merely living together, no matter for how long, is not enough. Therefore, the laws controlling who inherits when someone dies without a Will do not apply. Accordingly, if the suvivor wants inheritance rights, there must be a Will. As to any jointly owned property (i.e. any personal property that is held in both of their names or any real estate that is in both names and is held with rights of survivorship), then they do have rights.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Unless the couple was married, they have no legal relationship. Merely living together, no matter for how long, is not enough. Therefore, the laws controlling who inherits when someone dies without a Will do not apply. Accordingly, if the suvivor wants inheritance rights, there must be a Will. As to any jointly owned property (i.e. any personal property that is held in both of their names or any real estate that is in both names and is held with rights of survivorship), then they do have rights. 


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