How does legal treatment differ between married and unmarried couples?
Unmarried couples don’t:
- Inherit each other’s property automatically. Married couples have the state intestacy laws to support them if they do not have a will. Under the law, the surviving spouse will inherit (at the minimum) a fraction of the deceased spouse’s property.
- Have the privilege to speak for one another in a medical crisis. In the case that your life partner loses capacity or consciousness, someone will have to make the go-ahead decision for a medical purpose. It should be you, but if you haven’t filed certain paperwork, you may not have the ability to do so.
- Have the privilege to handle one another’s finances in a crisis. A married couple that jointly own assets is less affected by this problem than an unmarried couple.