Friday, August 21, 2009

Cohabitation Agreements Comparing Nova Scotia and Indiana

Overall, no great differences but some serious reminders on why to get a cohabitation agreement.

The Nova Scotia perspective comes from Protecting Your Property When Living as Common Law

A common law relationship exists when two people, who are not married, live together in a marriage-like relationship. The couple can be a same-sex couple or of the opposite sex.
Indiana does not have common law marriage (you might want to go back and read my Living Together in Indiana - And then breaking up). Your property rights depend on some statutes that were not written with anything like common law marriage in mind: real estate, probate, and personal property laws. If you do not follow these statutes, then you must convince a trial court that you have a case under Indiana's common law. And this appears to be the same in Nova Scotia:
While Nova Scotia laws dictate the rights of married couples, the rights of common law couples are not as clearly defined. Ironically, some people select common law living to avoid the legal complications of marriage. However, living as common law has proven to be more complex, especially if there is no agreement on key issues.
That last sentence I emphasized because it makes a point all too true for Indiana.

I have only a mild quibble with this point from Nova Scotia:
For example, if a person who owns a house dies without a will, their common law partner may not have any entitlement to the property or the proceeds if it is sold. Conversely, while your intentions may be to leave your home to a family member, your common law spouse may have a claim against your estate depending on the circumstances.
Real estate can be transferred by deed or by Will. If the owner is a joint owner, then it does not matter what is done in the Will.

Yes, one may make a claim against the estate. This will cost money to do so.

Those fearing the costs - emotional as well as financial - should consider these thoughts from Nova Scotia:
Understanding common law rights and responsibilities will foster a strong relationship. Creating a cohabitation agreement will ultimately ease the situation, and protect your home, if the relationship ends.
For more articles on this subject, click on the labels below.

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