Common Law Marriage
Common law marriage, also known as an informal marriage, is a legally recognized marriage between two people who have not obtained a marriage license or held a formal ceremony. Not every state recognizes common law marriage as a valid and legal form of marriage, so a couple desiring to enter into a common law marriage should ensure that they are first residing in a state which provides legal recognition of common law marriages. In the state of Oklahoma, common law marriage is recognized and treated the same as a ceremonial marriage, which includes entitlement to benefits such as an equitable share of all marital assets.
Proof of Common Law Marriage
In Oklahoma, a couple is considered to be in a common law marriage if they satisfy certain requirements, Both individuals must be at least 18 years old, competent to enter into a marriage, agree to be married, live together as spouses, and present themselves to others as married.
In order to prove a common law marriage in probate court, evidence is required to establish that a couple has adequately satisfied these requirements. This evidence can be demonstrated through filing joint tax returns, sharing property, wearing wedding rings, listing one another as a spousal beneficiary on policies (retirement, life, etc.), and providing witness testimony from friends and family who have personal knowledge of the couple.
Probate and Common Law Marriage
When a person dies without a will in Oklahoma, their assets will be distributed according to the state’s intestacy laws. If the deceased person was in a common law marriage, then their surviving spouse may be entitled to a share of the estate if the common law marriage can be properly established through evidence of the marriage. The process of establishing a common law marriage can be complicated and time-consuming, especially if there are other potential heirs in the probate who will dispute the existence of the common law marriage.
If you are currently in a common law marriage in Oklahoma, it is important to keep records of your joint assets and ensure that your wishes are clearly stated in a will to ensure that your assets are distributed according to its terms and to avoid any confusion or dispute after your death with respect to your common law marriage. If you are dealing with a probate and believe that you are entitled to a share of a deceased person’s estate as their common law spouse, it may be helpful to consult with an experienced probate attorney to help you navigate the process.
It’s never too early to begin estate planning. No one knows what the future holds, but with a plan in place that provides for your own future needs and those of your loved ones, you can proceed with peace of mind. If you or a friend or loved one are considering estate planning for the first time, or are in need of updating an existing plan, please contact the attorney at Skillern Law Firm, PLLC by phone at 918-805-2511 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to also book an appointment with our firm using our Book an Appointment Online page!