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What every unmarried couple should know before buying a home

Many Maryland couples opt to move in together either before getting married or with no intention of getting married. This often involves purchasing a home together. When you purchase any property of value, but particularly a home, with another person, there are important legal considerations to keep in mind to protect your financial interests if the relationship ends or your partner dies.

Of course, no one wants to contemplate either of these possibilities. However, failure to do so could leave you facing financial hardship on top of the emotional toll that such a loss would undoubtedly take. No matter how much you may contribute to paying the mortgage or to home maintenance, if your name isn’t on the title, you could face an unpleasant legal battle with family members or others.

There are two ways to purchase property with someone else: as tenants-in-common or as joint tenants. Let’s take a look at both of those.

If one of you isn’t in the position to pay for half the cost of the property, purchasing it as tenants-in-common may be your best choice. Under this type of ownership, you own whatever percentage of the property you purchase. You are legally entitled to that percentage if your relationship ends or your partner dies.

Joint tenancy, on the other hand, means that the two of you own equal shares of the property. If your relationship ends, you’re entitled to half the property’s value. If he or she dies, however, you are entitled to the full value of the property under right of survivorship.

If one person is the sole owner of the property, but wants the other partner to have all or a share of it if the relationship ends or in the event of death, legal documents should be drawn up to state that. We’ve talked here before about so-called “no-nup” agreements that co-habitating couples sometimes draw up to detail their wishes on such matters.

You can also leave your partner your property in your will should you die. An estate plan is important for anyone of any age if you want to control the distribution of your assets after your death. If you and your partner are buying a home or any property of significant value together, you should consult a Maryland attorney for advice and guidance.

Source: FindLaw, ” Unmarried Couples and Property – Basics,” accessed March 09, 2016

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