Say you’ve been with your partner for years. You live together and share certain assets together. Your lives are completely intertwined. Sure, you are not legally married, but you certainly don’t see yourself not being together. You both plan on spending the rest of your lives together, just without the legality of marriage.

There are plenty of reasons why a couple may decide to not get married, all of which are deeply personal. But what happens when one of them passes away? As it turns out, if you don’t have a will, your significant other may wind up with nothing.

No estate plans in place? Maryland law will decide

If two people are married – and one passes away – without a will saying otherwise, all or a majority of the decedent’s assets will automatically transfer to the surviving spouse.

However, when someone is not legally married and there is no will, Maryland’s interstate succession laws will dictate what happens next. Who gets what and how much will all depend on whether the deceased person has children, living parents or siblings.

For example:

·         Children, but no sibling or living parents: Child inherits everything

·         Living parents, but no children: Living parents inherit everything

·         No children or living parents, but has sibling: Sibling inherits everything

In the above examples, no matter if there is “Significant other and adult children,” or “Significant other and living parents,”– without a will – the significant other can wind up with nothing.

A will provides the final say

The good news is that there is a way to make sure that each domestic partner receives assets when the other passes: create a will.

The will should specifically name the domestic partner, by name, and clearly lay out the items or share to be received.

Even if you believe the rest of you family absolutely adores your partner, never underestimate how quickly things can change when it comes to dividing up assets without a will. Having a will ensures that a domestic partner receives what is intended.  Without a will, state law controls.