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In 1976, the California Supreme Court handed down its decision in Marvin v. Marvin, recognizing the enforcement of contract and equitable claims that could be asserted when an unmarried partnership was dissolved. Most states have followed the basic holding in Marvin, although important differences in state law have developed over time. Recently, the Uniform Law Commission has approved a uniform act dealing with these issues, the Uniform Cohabitants' Economic Remedies Act (UCERA)

Much has been written about the rights that unmarried partners can assert against each other. Most of the scholarship has focused on the rights that arise when a partnership dissolves during the lifetime of the partners. This essay will focus, instead, on claims to Marvin rights that are asserted after the death of one partner, typically in probate court. Many of the issue that arise in these cases are similar to the issues that arise in cases involving lifetime dissolutions. But there are some differences. This essay will focus on the difference that can arise in the enforceability of such claims, in the identification of the applicable statute of limitations, and on whether or not the payment of such claims by an estate can be deducted for estate tax purposes.

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