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Am I Responsible for My Spouse’s Debts in a Second Marriage?

Dartmouth Massachusetts Wills & Trusts Lawyer Answers Critical Question: Is my new spouse responsible for my debts in a second marriage?

The Living Together Law Center, Attorney Andrew Garcia, is an advocate for partners who are living together in committed relationships and for couples in second marriages. In this video, Andrew answers the critical question that many partners have about whether they are going to be responsible for debts incurred by their partner before they remarry or before they move in together.

Couples who are in second marriages and partners who are living together have legitimate questions and concerns about their responsibilities and their legal rights.  For example, common law marriage is not recognized in Massachusetts and that seriously affects the rights of both partners in the relationship.

Get Trusted Advice from a Living Together Law Advocate

Trusted advice from an advocate who understands the worries and fears of cohabiting couples and couples in second marriages is what you’ll find at The Living Together Law Center.

Take the first step to getting your questions answered by contacting us now.

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Living Together May Soon Become Lawful in Florida

In recent news, Fox 25 reports that unmarried couples may soon be allowed to legally live together in Florida. A measure to get rid of a law that’s been on the books since 1868 making it illegal for unmarried men and women to cohabit is pending before the Florida State Senate.

Apparently, Florida, along with only 2 other states in the U.S. (Michigan and Mississippi), makes cohabitation between a man and woman a misdemeanor punishable by 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

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Living with My Boyfriend, the House is in His Name. Who Gets the House if he Dies?

Happy family in front of houseA woman asks: I’ve been living with my boyfriend for 8 years. We live in a house here in Massachusetts that’s in his name only. We both work and I help pay the mortgage, the gas and electric, the cable and the food.  He has a 10 year old girl from his first marriage and she spends time with us and we even do things together like going on vacation to Disney World.

But, the deed to the house is still in his name only. I’m worried about what would happen to me if he died. Who would get that house? Would I be out in the street?

Does this sound familiar? It should because at The Living Together Law Center, I see this situation all the time.  Let’s break this state of affairs down and see where this woman stands.

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If You Live Together for 7 Years are You Married in Massachusetts?

My Boyfriend and I Have Been Living Together for 7 Years. Are We Married?

Couple having relationship problemsThis is an excellent and very common question. It’s a widespread misconception that if a couple lives together for 7 years or more in Massachusetts then they are considered married under common law. Massachusetts, however, does not recognize common law marriage.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve lived together for 7 years, 10 years or 30 years. Under Massachusetts law there is no common law marriage.

What Does This Mean to Me?

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What is a Massachusetts Cohabitation Agreement?

Women who fill out the contractMassachusetts law does not recognize common law marriage. So when couples who have been living together (or cohabiting) decide to break up or when one suddenly dies, there is no “rule book” that controls how property is split up between them.

Cohabitation agreements are written contracts between partners who are living together. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided that it would recognize the benefits to be gained by encouraging unmarried cohabitants to enter into these written agreements called cohabitation agreements. A cohabitation agreement will govern a couple’s affairs when the relationship is terminated for whatever reason, including breaking up and death of a partner.

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Living Together: 3 Reasons to Do Your Estate Plan in 2016

Close up of couple having fun outdoorsMassachusetts doesn’t recognize common law marriage no matter how long a couple has lived together.  Since common law marriage isn’t recognized, there are no laws that require that property be automatically passed on to a surviving partner after the death of the first and there’s no guarantee that one partner will be in charge of making medical decisions for another.

If you’re living together in Massachusetts, it’s critical that you have your legal affairs in order in case the unthinkable happens. Here are three reasons why cohabiting couples should prepare an estate plan in 2016:

Reason #1: When You Die Your Surviving Boyfriend or Girlfriend Doesn’t Automatically Get Your Property

When a person dies without a last will and testament, Massachusetts law controls how property passes on. This is called the “law of intestate succession” or the “laws of intestacy.”

Massachusetts law says that when a person dies without a will their property will pass on to a surviving spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, then it passes to surviving children. If there are no surviving children, then to surviving parents, siblings and so on.

One person that the law does not include is a surviving boyfriend or girlfriend. So, a surviving cohabiting partner is not guaranteed to receive any property from a deceased cohabiting partner.

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Living Together: How Can I Protect My Property Rights?

Women who fill out the contractMassachusetts does not recognize “common law” marriage. Even if you’ve lived together for 7 years, Massachusetts doesn’t recognize the doctrine. Since there’s no common law marriage, when couples who have been living together break-up there are no real rules about how to split up their property.

When cohabiting couples break up some of the biggest challenges are dividing up the cash in the bank accounts and figuring out who has a right to the real estate.

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How to Protect Your Kids’ Inheritance in a Second Marriage

Why Second Marriage Estate Planning is Critical

When you get remarried in Massachusetts having an estate plan becomes even more critical because without proper legal planning state law will control how your assets get passed on. If you have children from your prior marriage and you haven’t created a plan that will protect them, then you assets could be passed on entirely to your new spouse and those assets might not get to your kids.

Attorney Andrew Garcia of The Living Together Law Center, a division of Phillips Garcia Law in Dartmouth explains:

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