Many unmarried couples today, including seniors, live together outside the bonds of marriage. This can be either as a matter of choice or, sometimes as a matter of need, as in some situations a marriage could cost a partner his or her government
benefits upon which he or she is dependent. Regardless of the reason, under the law, these partners are treated the same as any two unrelated people. They do not have same rights as a married couple. This is true both for purposes of distributing
assets upon death, but also for ensuring that the other partner can make decisions on the partner’s behalf in the event of incapacity or other health emergency.