Common law marriage is still in practice in South Carolina and should be factored into your estate plan if it applies. Common law marriage occurs when a man and woman live together in the same house for a year and do some outward act to hold themselves out as man and wife. There does not have to be a formal marriage ceremony or marriage license to have a common law marriage. A common law marriage can implications on an estate plan in many ways. When there is no will in place the South Carolina Intestate Succession laws govern where your assets will go. The existence of a common law marriage really depends on evidence that the couple cohabitated for a year and if they held themselves out as married. This means evidence and arguments determine whether the surviving member of the possible common law marriage gets no assets or all or half of the assets. Evidence of the possible common law marriage and not the intent of the parties determine where the assets will go. A long time live in partner of twenty years may be left with nothing because there was no evidence of the common law marriage or the girlfriend or boyfriend of a year may get everything because they jokingly told a neighbor they were married one time. Consult an estate planning attorney. It is better to formalize the marriage or put in writing that there is no marriage to prevent any misunderstandings of the existence or not of a common law marriage. It is even a better idea to make your intentions of where you want assets to go known by making a will. It is better to choose for yourself instead of the probate court