If you've chosen to live together over marriage, you aren't alone. However, many myths still exist about the concept of "living together." The fact remains that, unless you define your partnership through a legal contract, the law may view you as strangers in the case of a breakup or death, which can be particularly difficult when you own a house or other real estate together.

By choosing to live together, couples are foregoing certain rights and protections provided for them in a marriage. Married couples accrue legal rights, including the right to receive a property settlement and/or support in the event of divorce; file joint tax returns; receive distributions from estates free of estate tax; receive survivor's benefits from retirement plans and Social Security; obtain "family" health insurance, dental insurance, and other employment benefits; and automatically share in their partner's property in the event they die without a Will. Unmarried couples, on the other hand, generally acquire similar rights by expressly securing their benefits in cohabitation agreements. A cohabitation agreement is a contract between cohabitants which typically establishes contractually for the parties the rights and obligations that married people obtain by custom, statute, and agreement.

If you, your family, friends, neighbors, or coworkers have questions about cohabitation agreements, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to see how we can be of service.