Massachusetts 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. Attorney Andrew Garcia of The Living Together Law Center identifies 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.