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How Can I Protect My Interest in the House I Am Buying with My Unmarried Partner?

  • May 5th, 2016
My significant other and I, who are both in our sixties, are buying a home together and will be listed on the deed as tenants in common. I am making a substantial down payment, and we will share the monthly mortgage. How do I protect the money I am putting in upfront and get it back when we sell or if I should die? We both want the other to have the right to live in the home as long as the survivor wants. After selling the house, we want the proceeds to go to my children. How do we set up our wills to indicate our desire?

This is an increasingly common situation. The best solution is to use trusts, either a joint one created by you and your significant other or separate ones that you each create. In either case, you can provide that the house will be held in trust for the survivor and then the proceeds ultimately distributed as you direct. There are a few issues you will need to discuss: Who should serve as trustee? Who should have the right to appoint and remove trustees? What happens if the survivor no longer wants to live in the house, can’t afford to maintain it, or can no longer live independently? Who would get to decide to sell the house? What would happen to the proceeds? The more answers you work out in advance, the better things will function in the future.

We recommend you consult with an elder law attorney in your state. To find one near you, go here:

Local Elder Law Attorneys in Ashburn, VA

John Laster

Law Offices of John L. Laster
Falls Church, VA

Margaret O'Reilly

Margaret A. O'Reilly, PC
Herndon, VA

Jeffrey Hammond

Hammond and Associates, LLC, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, Probate
Bethesda, MD

For more information on planning for the nontraditional family, click here.


Last Modified: 05/05/2016

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