By: Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, JD
A common law wife, is a person who has lived in a relationship as if she were someones wife, but whom she never formally married. This concept may be asserted by the woman after the man dies as a basis to inherit from his estate. If the man died without a will (intestate) his assets would be distributed under the laws of intestacy of his state, which do not provide for any distribution to a non-married partner. If the woman could prove under that state's laws that she was a common law wife, the equivalent of a wife, the courts may permit her to inherit.
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