It is not good to assume you will receive an inheritance merely because you are a common law spouse.
It is never good to assume.
Clear communication is always the better option.
A recent Penn Live article titled “Woman who isn't named in lover's will can't get a penny from his estate, Pa. court says,” recounts the story of a woman who learned this the hard way.
A Pennsylvania judge recently confirmed the ruling against Carol Garlinac regarding the estate of her lover Ralph Tito.
Garlinac claimed she and Tito were common-law spouses, giving her a right to his inheritance.
Unfortunately for her, the evidence was not in her favor.
The children claim their father had Garlinac sign a cohabitation agreement whereby she waved the right to contest the will.
Pennsylvania laws were of no help either.
The state only recognizes common-law marriages contracted before January 1, 2005.
Also, there must be a mutual agreement between both parties for a common-law marriage to exits.
Failing these salient requirements, Galinca has no legal claim to a share of the estate of her lover.
What do we learn?
It is always better to make it official and get married.
There should be no room for doubt or confusion.
Talk with your loved one about his or her estate and work with an experienced estate planning attorney well in advance to avoid a similar situation.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: Penn Live (November 17, 2016) “Woman who isn't named in lover's will can't get a penny from his estate, Pa. court says”