Q: Is it fraud to apply for benefits from a commen law marriage if they were not even commen law married and the man died.

I have a friend who was a caregiver for an elderly couple and she was also dating their grandson and they lived with the couple. The lady died and the man knowing his time was soon as well decided to leave everything to my friend. He had papers drawn up stating that he and my friend were comnen law married... But they were not. She got the house and property and vehicle's but now she's going to try and get his social security, retirement, veterans benefits, etc. I'm trying to tell her not to do thst because that would be fraud. This is in Texas and she is much younger than he was. As I said earlier they were not comnen law married she was dating the grandson and she was their caregiver. The man's wife had died not even a year earlier. The man just didn't want to leave anything to grandson because he's a low life. Am I correct in saying this could be construed as fraud?

1 Lawyer Answer
Stanley Franklin Denman
Stanley Franklin Denman
  • Social Security Disability Lawyer
  • Dallas, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: The account here is a little hard to follow. It is highly unlikely the social security administration would recognize this arrangement as a common law marriage entitling your friend to social security benefits. A common law marriage under Texas law is not created just because someone declares it - rather, the focus is on whether the couple held themselves out to the community as being married. Does not sound like your friend has even a slim chance of convincing SSA she and the old man were "common law married".

I don't think your friend will be exposed to a fraud charge if she presents the document to SSA - although it is going to look very suspicious: younger caregiver presenting a document drafted by a dying old that would allow her to get his social security. SSA could contact other authorities to investigate whether there had been some type of elder abuse. I could see why. In fact, I am very suspicious of your friend - at the least she sounds very unethical. May I ask politely why you are friends with a person who moves from the grandson to the old man after his spouse dies and may have convinced the old man on his death bed to give her his property?

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