If my fiancé dies, what are my rights?

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If my fiancé dies, what are my rights?

I’m engaged to a man who was married and divorced 12 years ago. They have 2 kids together and she is currently on his health insurance. I am in the process of moving into his house, he bought me a new car 9but in his name), and we have 1 joined bank account. God forbid something happens to him before we get married, what am I entitled to? Does his ex-wife have more rights than I do? I just want to put the proper paperwork together to protect myself.

Asked on May 12, 2017 under Estate Planning, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You are entitled to nothing by virtue of being a fiance: being engaged is not a legal relationship and gives you no rights to property. You would have rights to anything owned jointly with him, such as (depending on how exactly you own it) either your share of money in a joint bank account or possibly all the money in the account; however, you would have no right to anything owned solely by him (e.g. a car titled in his name;  a house if he only he and not you are on the title). Were he to die before you are married, anything owed by him (including any bank or brokerage accounts which are only in his name) will go to his children if there is no will.
If he has a will, then anything owed solely by him (or his share of joint assets) will go as directed by a will; so if he has a will naming you as a beneficiary, that can protect you, and that is something he should create: that will give you protection (as would putting you on the title of a home or other assets). If you are going to delay marrying for any length of time, he should also create a power of attorney giving you authority over his finances, business, property, etc. if he is incapacitated, and a medical POA/directive letting you make medical decisions for him--otherwise, you would have no right to do these things.


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