Pitfalls of Seniors Living Together
The Importance of Cohabiting Agreement
Today, seniors are opting for a different way to live together. Statistics show that in the last ten years, the rate of growth has risen substantially. And there are many reasons why.
First, it can be exceptionally economically useful. Many seniors exist with nothing but a small social security check. So it may make sense to combine a household to save expenses. But, one must be aware of legal reasons why it is prudent to have what is called a Cohabiting Agreement. It is, of course, wise to have legal advice, you can find agreements online as guidance to draft your own.
What exactly is a Cohabiting Agreement? In this agreement several issues would be spelled out such as: what bills will be paid by each, what will be joint expenses, what happens if it doesn't work out, how to split personal properties, what happens if one is incapacitated or dies, what about funeral expenses, the list must be carefully discussed. And, if you draft the agreement yourself, know that it must be notarized, and each gets a copy.
The internet has many great sites to guide you in drafting an agreement.
Pitfalls of Cohabiting Seniors
I feel I must preface this by beginning with a synopsis of a true story of a dear friend and what happened to her. I will call her Amy for this story. Amy was a widow, and her partner a widower. They dated for over a year before moving in together. They both had adult children. The widower owned the house free and clear, and he told her she didn't have to pay anything. They were both retired, collecting social security. He did have other funds and CDs.
Well, after three years of living together, he gave her an engagement ring. He also told her she could live in the house forever of something that happened to him. His two adult married daughters knew of his wishes.
Then, the worse thing happened. He dropped dead while they were at a dance. The daughters, who lived out of town, came and arranged for the funeral. They returned to their home. A couple of weeks later, they came back to town and said they needed to talk. They told Amy she had twenty-four hours to vacate the house!
Amy was devastated, couldn't even see beyond the tears. Where would she go, her car was old and declining. She packed her car with only her clothes and computer, leaving behind personal things she had bought decorating the house.
Amy was seventy years old and kicked to the curb. But, she had no legal rights, had no agreement about living in the house, so she had no alternative but to leave.
If Amy had a Cohabiting Agreement, none of that would have happened and she would have had some legal rights. Lesson learned the hard way.
Always Get Legal Advice
Things get complicated in life, and it can't be stressed enough always to get legal advice. A lawyer's fee is a small price to pay for something that could end up costing so much more.