David L. Leon
Common Law Marriage and Life Insurance in Texas
A common law marriage in Texas, if proven, carries the same validity as a ceremonial marriage. Accordingly, if there is a proven common law marriage, then the Texas rules regarding life insurance beneficiaries would apply.
Can a common law spouse be a beneficiary of a life insurance policy?
Yes. A life insurance applicant may appoint anyone (or any entity) as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy, even a common law spouse. Also, if a common law marriage was in existence, then a common law spouse may have community property interests in a life insurance policy (purchased after the marriage) if the spouse is not listed as a beneficiary.
If your common law spouse purchased a life insurance policy and didn't list you as a beneficiary, what happens next will depend on a few factors.
For instance, if you meet the statutory requirements for being a common law marriage at the time the policy was purchased, and community funds were used to purchase the policy, then the policy may be considered community property. The surviving spouse would be considered a one-half owner. These tend to be fact specific matters. Please contact us if you would like to discuss this further.
Is it possible to prove a common law marriage after death?
Yes. However, the burden of proof shifts after the second anniversary of the death of the purported spouse. If successfully proven, the date of the inception of the common law marriage may be determined by the court.