Property Rights of Unmarried Couples FAQ

If one of us dies, how much property will the survivor inherit?

Usually nothing, unless the deceased partner made a will or used another estate planning device, such as a living trust or joint tenancy agreement. In a few states, same-sex partners who are registered as domestic partners or have entered into a civil union relationshipmay automatically inherit a portion of a deceased partner's property, but these laws are by no means the safest or easiest way to plan for inheritance. The bottom line is simple: To protect the person you live with, you should specifically leave property using a will, living trust, or other legal document.

Making a Property Agreement

For help making a property agreement, as well as answers to more questions like these, see Nolo's Living Together: A Legal Guide for Unmarried Couples, by Ralph Warner, Toni Ihara, and Frederick Hertz. The book includes various agreements as tear-out forms and on CD-ROM, and provides state-by-state charts of state laws for your reference.

Find a Lawyer

Start here to find family and divorce lawyers near you.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you

Legal Information & Books from Nolo