Long Island Divorce & Family Law Firm Established in 1976
Ask the Expert: To what is Fiance Entitled?

Ask the Expert: To what is fiancé entitled?

Karen E. Klein | E-mail questions to Karen@KarenEKlein.com
October 4, 2008

The problem: I am a widow who's been living with my fiancé for 10 years. I own several properties titled solely in my name, some purchased before we met and some after. My will does not name my fiancé as a beneficiary, but I wonder: is he entitled to any portion of my assets?

The expert: Derrick Rubin, matrimonial and family law attorney,
Wisselman, Harounian & Associates, Great Neck.

The rules: Common-law marriage was abolished in New York State in 1933, so your fiancé isn't entitled to any of your assets under this theory of law. However, he could sue under a "contract," "partnership" or "equity" theory for an interest in your assets.

The strategy: If it's your intention, make clear in your will that your fiancé is not entitled to your assets. If you are concerned about him gaining control of your assets should your health deteriorate, execute a durable power of attorney that appoints a trusted family member to act on your behalf if you aren't able to make financial decisions someday.

How it works: If you don't marry your partner, he won't automatically be entitled to share in your estate. If you do marry, upon your death he'd be entitled to an "elective share" of the greater of $50,000 or one-third of your estate, even if your will does not leave him a penny.

New York recognizes common-law marriages contracted in another state or country if the legal requirements there have been met. So if you and your partner previously lived together in another state, and in that state your relationship qualified as a common-law marriage, New York would recognize the common-law marriage.

The results: Assuming you never marry your fiancé and weren't in a common-law marriage elsewhere, he shouldn't automatically be entitled to your assets. He could sue for a portion of your assets if he made any economic and/or noneconomic contributions to your homes, such as home improvements or design. He would have to prove any such entitlement in court.

Committed to Every Client

  • I highly recommend Joseph Bracconier's services to anyone looking for someone to relate to their personal experience and provide knowledgeable, empathic, professional guidance and support.”

    “Joseph Bracconier brought a certain calmness during a very chaotic, nerve wracking time in my life. He's has a remarkable way of quickly taking in all the information presented and recapping it in an ...”

    - Client Testimonials
  • She was with me every step of the way and I can’t thank her enough.

    “Amanda Green represented me in my divorce and made me feel at ease during the entire process. She is very patient and accommodating. Made it very easy to speak with her. This was a very difficult and ...”

    - Former Client
  • You always were saying that I had a good case. Always positive.

    “Jerry - You always were saying that I had a good case. Always positive. You looked at all the angles. You kept me hopeful and gave me great advice…Thank you for that and all the other great ...”

    - Client Testimonials
  • I would use them again and recommend him and the firm to others.

    “Joseph and the entire firm were very prepared to defend me in a restraining order case. It was a very difficult time for me being accused of something like that while I was being harassed by my ex. ...”

    - Client Testimonials
  • I can wholeheartedly recommend Christine!

    “Christine was my divorce lawyer and truly did an excellent job on my behalf. My soon to be ex-wife was out for blood and wanted alimony, half of everything, lawyers fees paid for.. Christine looked at ...”

    - Client Testimonials

Reasons to Choose Wisselman, Harounian & Associates P.C.

  • We will go the extra mile to meet your needs.

    Our professionals will go above and beyond to create a solution that is tailored to fit the unique needs and goals of you and your family.

  • We will walk you through every decision.

    When you hire us, we will get to know you on a personal level, inform you of your options, and help you make the best decisions possible.

  • We will sort out all concerns on your mind.

    Our mission is to put your mind at ease, alleviate your worries, address all concerns, and answer any questions you have along the way.

  • We will always act in your best interests.

    We demonstrate an unparalleled level of commitment to our clients. When you work with us, your needs will always come first.

We Can Help You Move Forward

Request Your Free Case Evaluation Today
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.