I am a realtor and often I sell homes to unmarried couples and do not feel comfortable advising them how to take title to a new home. What do you suggest?
That is a very difficult question to answer simply. It depends on a number of variables many of which would be particular to individual circumstance. A few things to keep in mind however is that once two (or more) people are put on a deed, you cannot get them removed without their consent. For purposes of title, it does not matter who is making the house payment.
If the property is titled with rights of survivorship, that means that when one party dies, the other party gets the entire property but it is possible that inheritance tax would be due on the deceased persons’ share that passed to the survivor. If you title the property as tenants in common, that means that when one party dies, their portion of the property would go to their estate. Therefore, if a person has property titled this way and they die without a will, it would go to their lineal family, i.e. it would follow a bloodline. So you could end up owning a home with people you don’t know very well. I have had people propose to me that one party take the title to the property and then agree to leave the house to the other party in a will. That works as far as it goes, but you can always change a will and can do so without the other party’s consent. It is a real dilemma that unmarried and same sex couples face and there is no answer that applies in all cases. You should consult with a lawyer and ascertain what would be best for each circumstance.
Derwin Rushing is a long time community resident and lawyer on Western Avenue. For questions or comments, please email Derwin at [email protected]