by: Joe Boles, Elder Law and Asset Protection Attorney

She was a 69-year-old widow and he was a 73-year-old widower. They met by the pool at their ocean front condominium complex. Both were in good health and had wonderful marriages that ended suddenly, too suddenly. They were both lonely with no family in Florida except during the holidays when they came to visit.

Becoming great friends came naturally to them. Becoming more intimate and emotionally entangled took a little longer but was oh so delightful!

After a year they wanted to move things to the “next level”.

Marriage would have meant a reduction in social security and health care plans. They kept separate bank accounts reassuring their beneficiaries that they would not “comingle” their assets risking their children’s inheritance. They didn’t care, they were happy!

She sold her condominium and put money into her trust. They lived in the condo titled in his name., also in his trust. Then he had a stroke. She was in Jacksonville when it happened. Their neighbor called when she saw the ambulance and she went straight to the hospital. She asked to be taken to him and they very appropriately asked if she was the spouse?

“No, I am his roommate, his significant other, his girlfriend!” They politely told her that unless she was his Durable Power of Attorney or his Health Care Surrogate they could not confirm if he was even in the Emergency Room. She called his out of state children and left messages. They did not call back. He died while she was in the waiting room.

After the funeral his son informed her that they were putting the condominium on the market and could she be out in two weeks?

The life lesson here is that without a legal relationship you have no rights. The best advice I can give you therefore is……..”Go See Somebody”…….. and get some legal protection for you both.