Wofford Heights, CA asked in Civil Litigation and Estate Planning for California

Q: common law marriage and inheritance

My father passed away and left no will. He and my mother were divorced, and he lived with another woman for 18 years unmarried. There are a few small things I would like to have as keepsakes, and his vehicle was in his name alone. As his blood relative am I entitled to these few things? or is common law recognized in this matter and she is entitled to his belongings?

4 Lawyer Answers
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
Jeffrey Louis Gaffney
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Carlsbad, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: There is no common law marriage in California. She has no rights to his property.

Nina Whitehurst agrees with this answer

Kenneth Sisco
Kenneth Sisco
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Norco, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: As a practical matter, there is no common law marriage. However, there is the concept of a cohabitation agreement, made famous in the Lee Marvin case. Lee Marvin's partner proved to the Court that Marvin had promised to share his life and all his property with her. If your father's lady can prove your father made such a promise she may have some rights.

Nina Whitehurst , David Ostrove and James Edward Berge agree with this answer

Jonathan Purcell
Jonathan Purcell
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • PETALUMA, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In general, common law marriage has not been recognized in California since 1895, with one exception.

If a couple previously lived in a state that recognized common law marriage,

and in the time they lived in that state they fulfilled that state's requirements for common law marriage,

upon moving to California,

their marriage may be recognized.

The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed as legal advice for any particular case or client. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney. This posting is not intended to constitute an advertisement or a solicitation.

Nina Whitehurst agrees with this answer

David Ostrove
David Ostrove
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: If he died without a will, his children inherit his property. California does not recognize so-called common law marriage. But, maybe he gifted things to his companion? He could do so, if he wanted to make gifts to her. Have you told your father's companion what you would like to receive. You should. Perhaps there is no issue about what you want. It would be nice if you could just work it out without getting involved with Court,

Nina Whitehurst agrees with this answer

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