Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cohabitation Article for the Week: What Happens When Two Live Together and One Dies?

Without some basic estate planning, the answer is a mess.

Take the situation where two people live togetther. One dies having possession of family heirlooms. There is no Will, no joint tenancy - nothing.

The decedent has left a horrible mess that should be sorted out in probate court. Probably sorted out in favor of the decedent's siblings and/or children and/or parents in accordance with Indiana's intestacy statute. Probate does not require a Will but only requires that a dead person have property to go into the probate estate. Everything the decedent owned in their own name will be removed from the home by the decedent's heirs. If the home is only in the decedent's name, the other person will be moved out of the house.

Real estate has its own problems. Although Cohabiting first-time buyers 'should plan ahead' concentrates on United Kingdom problems where both parties remain alive, nothing about its basic point abut self-protection when living with someone without being married applies to Indiana.

If you are living with someone in Indiana and you want to avoid this kind of problem, then you need a cohabitation agreement and some basic estate planning (power of attorney, Will, and maybe a deed for real estate). If you are living together with another person in Indiana who does not want to get a cohabitation agreement and some basic estate planning, perhaps you need to reconsider cohabitating with them.

If you live in Indiana and cannot find a local attorney for writing your cohabitation agreement, please give me a call.

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