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Cohabitating Agreements Offer Protection for Unwed Couples

Posted on in Civil Unions

KerryFor couples who make the decision to live together and not legally wed, the end of the relationship can be costly, whether the relationship ends because they decide not to live together or because one person dies. The state of Illinois does not recognize common-law marriage, leaving both parties unprotected.

There is no property division for separately owned property and no palimony. If one of the couple becomes a stay-at-home parent to care for children of the relationship, there is no law defining loss earning capacity. If one person becomes sick and is hospitalized, their partner has no legal say in their care. And there is no right to inherit the estate if one person dies.

Unless a couple is married or has entered into a civil partnership, the law does not recognize the living-together relationship. That’s why it’s important for unmarried couples to work with an attorney to prepare documents which will protect both parties. A cohabitation agreement should have the following:

  • A durable power of attorney for healthcare (or healthcare proxy). This gives a designated person the authority to make health care decisions if one is unable to do so.
  • A living together (or domestic partnership) agreement. This is a contact that specifies how property and assets will be handled together and how they will be handled in the event of a breakup.
  • A will. If an unmarried partner dies without a will, the surviving partner inherits nothing unless it is specified in a will.
  •  A durable power of attorney for financial management. This document gives a designated person the authority to manage property and finances if one is unable to do so.

It’s important to have a qualified lawyer who is familiar with both family law and estate planning prepare these documents. If you are considering signing a cohabitation agreement, contact an experienced Lombard family law attorney.

Illinois State Bar Association DuPage County Bar Association Northwest Suburban Bar Association American Inns of Court DuPage Association of Woman Lawyers National Association of Woman Business Owners Illinois Association Criminal Defense Lawyers DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
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