Hi, I will be happy to assist you, and it is my goal to make you a very satisfied customer! This may take a few minutes, so thanks for your patience.
Since the property at stake is located in PA, then that is where any court action and other legal process would take place to determine whether you had a valid common law marriage and were thus entitled to any portion of the home according to the laws of intestate succession (as part of the probate) and/or whether you have any claim against the PA estate as you invested certain funds into the home. The PA state bar association's website would be a good place to start in locating an attorney. In addition, www.martindale.com is a very good website you could use to search for a PA estate and/or probate attorney.
If you establish a common law marriage, then you would be entitled to 1/2 your husband's estate.
To do so, you must generally show evidence of the common law marriage such as holding yourselves out as married, using the same last name, filing joint income tax returns, etc.
Please let me know if I can provide additional assistance. If not, I would be grateful if you could please leave me a positive rating. I cannot receive credit for my work without your positive rating and that is the sole means of compensation for JustAnswer experts. Thanks.
Unfortunately, it appears that neither PA or NJ recognize common law marriages. Thus, it may not be possible to establish such a common law marriage (one performed without a marriage license) in order to claim an interest in the intestate estate. However, there may be a means by which you could make a claim against the PA estate since you did invest funds in that property. One such theory is that of unjust enrichment. You can claim there was an agreement that you would receive part ownership in the home and to not enforce that agreement (even if not generally a legally binding contract) would unjustly enrich the estate to your detriment). That is something to definitely address with a PA attorney.
As previously noted, please let me know if I can provide additional assistance and if not, I would be grateful if you could please leave me a positive rating. Thanks again.
I should also mention that if you and your partner were both on title to the PA (or other properties) as joint tenants, then you are now the sole owner and those properties never became part of your partner's probate estate. Your step-son would not have any legal right to those properties. I assume (based on your question) that this is not the case with the PA property, but I wanted to mention that just so you're clear on the law.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).