Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Common-law marriage has become an increasingly prevalent practice as states have begun recognizing these relationships. Despite this increase, nearly three-quarters of US states, including New York, do not legally recognize common-law marriages. New York intestacy laws dictate the manner in which a decedent’s estate is distributed among his heirs: $50,000 and one-half of the remainder goes to the spouse and the rest is passed pro rata to the surviving children. If the spouses were not legally married, the spouse inherits nothing from the estate. Even worse, the distribution can become considerably more complex for the children as they must provide evidence of their relationship to the deceased.
See Inna Fershteyn, Why Common Law Couples Need an Estate Plan, Law Office of Inna Fershteyn, October 14, 2017.
Special thanks to Alexander Evelson for bringing this article to my attention.