Consider the case of the Girl with the Dragon Tatoo author, Stieg Larsson, who wrote three books not published until after his death that became blockbusters. His life partner of 30 years, Eva Gabrielsson, and he had never formally married, so as to avoid a public registration and remain anonymous in the face of threats. Mr. Larsson made no Will to benefit his partner. As she was not a spouse, she could inherit nothing.
Most states in America had recognized a couple as married in fact, or at “common law”, if the couple represented themselves as spouses to others and acted as spouses; having children, joint title and ownership to property; calling each other “husband” or “spouse”, putting themselves as spouse on the many forms and applications of daily life. However, Georgia abolished common law marriages as of January 1, 1997; (Sweden never recognized such marriages) although a common-law marriage will be recognized in Georgia if it was created before January 1, 1997. Thus, if persons started to cohabit in January, 1997, and have lived with all the aspects and elements of married people over those 15 years, they cannot be married without a ceremony. However, if they were living as a married couple prior to that date, they could still be found to be married, depending on all the facts.