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Pitfalls of Seniors Living Together

Updated on April 16, 2020

Cohabitation Agreement

Cohabitation Agreement
Cohabitation Agreement

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.


Cohabitation 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.

There is a book, Living Together that offers so much advise that when I read it, I gave it to Amy for future use. It's a book for anyone contemplating living together arrangement.

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    • powers41 profile imageAUTHOR

      fran rooks 

      11 months ago from Toledo, Ohio

      Thanks for reading. I hope it helps someone out there.

    • Laurie S Novak 57 75 62 profile image

      Laurie S Novak 

      11 months ago from Michigan

      Thank you Fran for the insight. I shared.

    • powers41 profile imageAUTHOR

      fran rooks 

      11 months ago from Toledo, Ohio

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I do appreciate it.

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 

      11 months ago from Chicago

      A lot of seniors choose not to get married in order to {protect} existing benefits they may be receiving from a deceased spouse or finances and assets for their adult children and grandchildren.

      Secondly many seniors have already had the "fairytale wedding" and have come to realize they do not need a marriage license to feel secure in a relationship.

      Having said that the real issue is {if two people truly love each other} and one of them becomes very ill or possibly dies.

      The ill or deceased person's survivors may choose to kick his/her partner out of the home, refuse to allow them to visit their partners at the hospital since (they are not family). Ala (Amy).

      This also happened when Stieg Larsson author of "The Girl With Dragon Tattoo" books died. His girlfriend Eva Gabrielsson had been with him from 1974-2004 (the year he died). After 30 years of living with him his family turned on her and things got nasty.

      Because they were never married and Larsson died without leaving a will, his estate went to his father and brother, in accordance with Swedish law.

    • powers41 profile imageAUTHOR

      fran rooks 

      11 months ago from Toledo, Ohio

      Thank you Linda. I truly value your opinion.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      12 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Your advice sounds very important. I think it's definitely something for people to think about. Thanks for sharing Amy's story and the warning, Fran.

    • powers41 profile imageAUTHOR

      fran rooks 

      12 months ago from Toledo, Ohio

      Kyler, thanks for your comments. I love the last part---karma bite those people in the butt! I cracked up!!

      Thought---since you live with your girlfriend--word of thought---get medical POWs and HIPPA forms for yourselves.

      Cover your ass.

    • Kyler J Falk profile image

      Kyler J Falk 

      12 months ago from California

      A cautionary tale indeed, this is why despite being twenty-six I constantly add onto and update my legal will.

      Granted I only do this to ensure none of my assets go to my family other than my girlfriend and son, because I rightfully hate my family and their ongoing abusive lifestyle, but it is always good to have a legal will and any other possible legal agreement that you control at every age.

      My condolences to your friend, and may karma bite those people right in the butt!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      12 months ago from UK

      Your friend's experience should act as a warning to others.

    • powers41 profile imageAUTHOR

      fran rooks 

      12 months ago from Toledo, Ohio

      Thanks for the read. I genuinely hope people pay attention to what can happen without legal advice

    • surovi99 profile image

      Rosina S Khan 

      12 months ago

      Yes, Fran, the risks of living together after you retire are great as the case of Amy shows. Legal advice via a lawyer is a must in this case. I am glad you wrote this article. Hopefully, it will get the attention of the concerned people. Very informative hub.

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