Buying a home with a boyfriend, girlfriend or partner can be risky to all parties involved — much more risky than buying a home with a spouse, anyway.
This is because, with respect to Estate Planning, married homeowners are typically granted federal and state level-protection from which non-married homeowners are typically exempt.
If you’re planning to buy a home with a partner in 2013, make the proper protection.
Non-Married Buyers Should Seek Professional, Legal Advice
Non-married, joint homebuyers are rarely granted automatic protection on the federal and state level. If you’re among this buyer class, therefore, take care to make your own federal and state protection with the help of a real estate attorney.
At minimum, non-married joint homebuyers should consider signing two separate binding agreements as part of their partnership and joint homeownership :
- A cohabitation agreement between both parties
- A property agreement between both parties
This is the minimum recommendation. And don’t cut corners by using forms from the internet. Hire an attorney to get it right.
Don’t Make Google Your Attorney
Many joint buyers instinctively head to the search engines in search of “cheap legal documents”; or some DIY legal software that can draft your agreements.
It’s a common practice because (1) it’s cheap, and (2) it’s easy. It’s also dangerous.
You may not know what you’re signing exactly without formal law school training.
This is why you should plan to hire an actual, live attorney to help with your home purchase. It will cost you and your partner several hundred dollars, but it’s money well-spent. Several hundred dollars for preparation is far less than the cost of fighting a courtroom battle in the event of a breakup. It happens all the time.
Even worse — should one of the joint owners die with no estate plan in place, without a proper agreement in place between non-married, joint home buyers, the home could end up in probate. Documents found online rarely give that advice, nor protect you from disaster.
A “live” attorney can protect you from catastrophe, which is why you need one.
Advice For Joint, Non-Married Homeownership
The clip above was first shown on NBC’s The Today Show in May 2007. The message is still important today.
Love is blind, but it can also be blinding. Domestic and business partnerships don’t always end in happily ever after and joint homebuyers need to be prepared for that.
Beyond the legal angle, you’ll also want professional advice on the mortgage-side, too. How you apply for a mortgage can make a difference in the mortgage rate you’re quoted.
See how today’s low mortgage rates will fit your household budget.