Visitor Question

Boyfriend died in accident where at-fault driver failed to yield…

Submitted By: Penny (Lakeville, Indiana)

My boyfriend of eleven years was killed by a driver who Failed to Yield. He was 57 years old when he passed. He had one son that he had not seen for at least 25 years (he is 38) but all of a sudden he appears and files a wrongful death claim and kicks me to the side. He will not even answer the phone for me.

In Indiana there is nothing that the girlfriend gets upon death, unless they were married, but after eleven years I would think that would account for something. I have his power of attorney because he did not like to do paper work or anything like that, so he left it all up to me. I was also his emergency call contact for everything.

The evening of the accident I was the one who called the police and the hospital. I stayed with him until he took his last breath. I have done everything for this man and he for me in return. I am 58 and I depended on him too for everything and financially.

Is there anything I can do? Can I file some kind of civil suit? I will not let this time with this man go unaccounted for as if it was nothing. Wouldn’t 11 years together count as “common law” marriage or something like that? What can I do? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Penny,

Prior to January 1st, 1958, under Indiana Code Section 31-11-8-5, the State of Indiana recognized “Common Law Marriages” between a man and a woman.

A common law marriage may have occurred when two people held themselves out in public in Indiana as married, whether or not they were officially married under Indiana law. Then, upon the death of one of the parties, the other party may have been entitled to financial benefits arising out of the estate of the deceased party. This would be true even of the deceased party died intestate (without a will).

Unfortunately, the State of Indiana no longer recognizes Common Law Marriages. Indiana Code Section 31-11-8-5 was repealed effective January 1st, 1958.

The only way you may be entitled to financial benefits from the wrongful death proceeds paid on behalf of your boyfriend is if your boyfriend died testate (with a will) and in that will named you as beneficiary.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: June 19, 2016

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