By “unmarried couples”, we mean two individuals who are not married and know they are not married, but who live together in a marriage-like arrangement. While most unmarried couples are heterosexual, we include in this term same-sex relationships as well, although the law regarding same-sex couples is still emerging and is not yet settled.
If we are unmarried, what rights do I have in my partner’s property?
Without an agreement, probably none. Unlike married couples, whose property rights are spelled out by state marital property laws, unmarried couples must generally make an agreement setting out what rights each has in the property of the other.
What property should be covered by an agreement?
Anything that is worth a fair amount of money. This includes houses, bank accounts, stock, farms, and pension plans. Valuable cars or jewelry might also be included. You might also include property that has significant sentimental value, even if it couldn’t be sold for much money. And consider including your pets, to lessen the likelihood of fights about this later on.
Must the agreement be in writing?
Some states require a common law partner agreement to be in writing, but even if your state doesn’t, it is a good idea to put it in writing. When you write everything down, sign it, and keep a copy, you can prove later what was agreed to without worrying about who is believed.