If you’re thinking of buying (co-owning) a home with a partner, if you’re an unmarried couple or just friends, it’s extremely important to protect yourself if there were a death, a parting or foreclosure. The decision you make in co-owning any property can have disastrous repercussions and consequences.
Approximately 25% of primary homebuyers in the US are single. Generally speaking, non-married buyers have very little or no estate-planning protection at either the state or federal level.
There are many reasons people choose to have one person listed as the buyer. Some are credit issues such as one person having a higher credit rating allowing for a better interest rate or one person wanting to avoid creditors. Even tax issues come into play where the high-income person wants to take full advantage of the property tax deductions.
If you decide only one name is to be listed on the deed and/or loan, an experienced real estate attorney can draw up a separate contract that spells out the property interests of both parties. Your attorney can review and explain to you other problems and solutions that may arise from state and federal tax authorities or creditors who may claim you’re hiding assets.
Joint Tenancy is one way to co-own property. There are legalities involved with joint tenancy such as both (or more) parties having equal shares in the property. There are ways to have joint tenancy even if one party makes the down payment such as documenting the loan in a promissory note or contract.
Having a Cohabitation Agreement can also be used. This agreement will describe each party’s financial obligation to the home including all details of the mortgage, real estate taxes and insurance, down payments and money paid for all repairs. The agreement will include what and how the house is to be disposed of if a death or break-up occurs.
A real estate attorney can also draft a Property Agreement. These agreements can state the disposition of furniture and other items bought together during the co-habitation.
A fairly common way for unmarried couples to hold property together is by “tenants in common”. A Tenant in Common does not have an automatic right to inherit the property like a Joint Tenancy does. The property will be left to whomever is specified in a will or a trust. If there’s no will, the deceased person’s heirs will inherit their share.
If you want your share of the property to go to someone else, you can specify that in a life estate provision in the deed. This would allow the living party to remain in the house even though the deceased has left their share to a third party. Tenants in common can legally own property in unequal shares and still have both names listed on the deed as tenants in common.
If you’re thinking about co-owning any residential or commercial real estate property, contact a qualified real estate attorney to go over all your options and help you select which one is best to protect your interests and the interests of the other co-owner. Gantenbein Law Firm's Denver real estate attorneys offer a free consultation of your case.
Gantenbein Law Firm's Denver business lawyers can also protect your commercial real estate purchases, draft commercial leases, or protect your interests if you break a commercial lease.
In addition to Real Estate Law and Business Law, Gantenbein Law Firm also practices Tax Law- including irs audits, tax liability issues, tax litigation and more, Foreclosure Defense, HOA Defense, Wills, Trusts, and Estate Law. For more information on our attorneys or practice areas, visit www.gantenbeinlaw.com or call 303-618-2122.