So you want to buy a place with your boo, but you’ve both been burned before. Marriage equality is great, but it’s not for you.
Or you’ve owned your own dream home for a long time and your sweetie has been living there with you, and you want to give her ownership. Well, there are a few options to consider.
You could quit claim one-half of the home to your significant other by quit claim deed. You can co-own the home as tenants in common (TIC) or as joint tenants with right of survivorship (JTROS). There are multiple significant legal consequences to either of these decisions. Getting advice about your particular situation is worth a few hundred dollars for a consult.
For example, in Washington state, we do not have common law marriage, but we do have a legal creature called Committed Intimate Relationships (CIR). Over the years, you may have become a partner in a CIR without even realizing it. Transferring ownership of your property may solidify your CIR in a way that will change your rights and responsibilities forever.
And depending on the type of transfer, undoing things can be more cumbersome than Kim Kardashian’s bedtime make-up removal routine.
If that doesn’t scare you, you’re probably in a stable happy relationship (which is wonderful). Before you change the ownership of your property, you’ll want to sit down and figure out what’s driving this change in ownership and how comfortable you are with this change becoming permanent. Specifically, you’ll need to determine what you want to happen to your interest when you die. Do you want to be able to privately and freely change who receives your interest in your will? Or not?
You should also consider entering into a co-ownership agreement. At a minimum, you really should have a conversation about who is going to pay for major repairs, who is going to clean the gutters, who is going to pay the mortgage, who is going to pay the utilities… you get the idea.
You each should consult with separate counsel before changing ownership of your assets.