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Ask the Hammer: How can you receive spousal benefits in a common-law marriage?

Jeffrey Levine, chief planning officer at Buckingham Wealth Partners, answered a reader question about how their mother could receive spousal benefits after their partner in a common-law marriage died.

"My mom was common law to a man for 24 years, that passed away in 2017- she is having trouble with proving the common law and thus hasn't been able to get any benefits. Furthermore, his mother whom he was practically estranged from, jutted back in after his passing and overstepped in all of his funeral arrangements and financial affairs. She, his other, told my mom she wouldn't see a dime from him and remained as cold and insensitive as I've always known her to be. What can be done in this situation? What does she need to do?"

That's the question Jeffrey Levine, chief planning officer at Buckingham Wealth Partners, answered in this installment of Ask the Hammer.

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