What are my rights if my companion recently passed away without a Will?

UPDATED: Nov 8, 2013

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What are my rights if my companion recently passed away without a Will?

He had a pension through the union and recently started receiving disability through social security. We lived together over 10 years and were buying a house together. We were husband and wife in our hearts and mind. We raised 2 boys together who still reside with me. Now his sister has taken over since his passing and is trying to snatch everything. Do I have any rights to my home and to his pension or do I have rights to anything? For 10 years he was mine and my boys soul provider. We had discussed what would happen if one of us should suddenly pass but never got it in writing. I have no source of income and have nowhere for my sons.

Asked on November 8, 2013 under Estate Planning, South Carolina


Anne Brady / Law Office of Anne Brady

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

This will depend upon state laws with respect to common law marriage and contracts.  South Carolina recognizes common law marriage, but the couple has to hold itself out to people as married, and it does not sound like you and your companion did that.  However, you might still have a claim under contract law.  Arizona does not recognize common law marriage at all, but there have been cases where Arizona courts have recognized that a contract existed between two people who lived together and intended certain things.  You need to get a lawyer as soon as possible.

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