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My Common Law Spouse Died. How Do You Prove Common Law Marriage After Death?

Updated: May 29

Proving Common Law Marriage After Death
Common Law Marriage After Death

When a person passes away without having legally married their partner, complications can arise. This article will look at how best to prove common law marriage after death in order to recognize the relationship between two people who shared a life together but were not officially wed.


At Your Legacy Legal Care™, we understand how hard it is to lose your spouse. Proving that your common law marriage is the last thing you want to do during this time of grief, but it is necessary.


If you have more questions or need help, contact us today to schedule a consultation.


What Is Common Law Marriage?


Common law marriage is a union between two consenting adults who live together and present themselves as husband and wife without ever going through the formal process of actually getting married. It’s a type of relationship that has been around for centuries, but only recently have certain states begun to recognize it as valid by providing legal rights for common law couples.


The recognition of this type of arrangement varies from state to state, though. Some states do not acknowledge it at all, while others are more lenient in recognizing it.


Each state has its own set of criteria that must be met in order to prove the validity of a common law marriage after death. These may include things such as living together for a specific amount of time or filing joint tax returns.


Knowing what requirements your particular state demands can help you determine whether or not your situation qualifies as a legally-binding marriage.


Requirements of a Common Law Marriage


A common law marriage is a union that has been recognized by the state, even though it hasn’t gone through the usual legal process. So, what are the requirements for this type of marriage to be considered valid?


Well, first and foremost, both parties must agree to be married. They will need to live together as if they were married. In addition, partners in a common law marriage must also hold themselves out to be married to others—friends, family members, employers—and present themselves as such publicly.


Proving Your Common Law Marriage After Death


Here are a few steps you can take to prove your common law marriage after your spouse passes away.


Gather documents that show evidence of cohabitation before death occurred. This includes things like joint bank account statements, utility bills with both names on them, any insurance policies in which you were listed as beneficiaries, etc. The most important piece of evidence is usually filing a joint tax return. This alone will usually meet all of the criteria for common law marriage.


It’s also important to obtain copies of any legal paperwork that was filed by either partner during the relationship, such as wills or powers of attorney. These will help provide proof that the couple intended for their union to be recognized by the state as a legitimate marriage.


Collecting these pieces of evidence is the key to establishing your relationship status. This can help make sure you receive benefits due from Social Security, pensions, estates, and more after the passing of your partner. It’s important to gather all relevant documentation quickly; time may not be on your side when getting this process underway.


The Role of Witnesses in Proving a Common Law Marriage


When it comes to proving a common law marriage after the death of one partner, witnesses can play an important role. They may be able to provide evidence that demonstrates the couple has been living together and has had a committed relationship for some time.


Here are five things that witnesses might offer when attempting to prove a common law marriage:

  1. Testimony about how long the partners lived together

  2. Evidence from family members or other people who know them well regarding their relationship status

  3. Details about any joint assets held by the couple

  4. A record of filing taxes jointly as husband and wife

  5. Any written documents such as wills or trusts where they refer to each other as spouses


These items all demonstrate a level of understanding between two individuals that goes beyond what would normally exist between friends or roommates. Having these facts provided by unbiased third-party sources can help strengthen your case and make it easier for you to receive benefits due under state laws related to common law unions.


How a Lawyer Can Help You Prove Your Common Law Marriage


When trying to prove a common law marriage, lawyers are invaluable resources for providing legal guidance and knowledge. They will assist in gathering evidence from witnesses who knew you both when you were alive and could testify about any statements made during the course of your relationship regarding each other being spouses.


Additionally, they may also be able to provide advice on how best to present this information before a court of law should there be any questions raised by family members following their loved one’s passing.


Lawyers can also review existing documents like wills and trusts, which might contain language indicating recognition of the deceased’s marital status. If they had named their partner as someone entitled to receive certain benefits or assets upon their death, then that could serve as proof that their relationship was indeed viewed as legitimate under state laws.


Furthermore, attorneys can access public records such as tax filings where joint filing status may have been used.


Contact Your Legacy Legal Care™ Today


Proving common law marriage after death can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. It is important to obtain as much evidence as possible to demonstrate that a couple was in a common law marriage relationship. This may include collecting evidence of a shared financial life, cohabitation, or even testimony from friends and family that the couple was in a common law marriage.


This process may seem overwhelming, which is why you should consider working with a lawyer. You can rely on the team at Your Legacy Legal Care™ to help. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.


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