Dating my property

Today, more and more couples live together before they marry and many live together indefinitely without getting married at all.

Most unmarried couples accumulate a great deal of shared property, but fail to consider how the property will be divided if the relationship ends.

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Buying Property Together Before you buy a house or other substantial asset jointly with someone else, decide how you will own the property.

Doing so will protect your rights if your partner dies or the relationship ends.

Basically, you need to decide whether you will own the property as joint tenants, or tenants-in-common. Joint tenancy is a form of ownership in which ownership is shared equally.

All joint tenants own equal interests in the jointly-owned property. If you decide to hold the property as tenants-in-common, then each owner has a distinct share in the property. For example, if one party contributes 25 percent to the purchase price, then the property share could reflect that percentage.

When two or more persons expressly own property as joint tenants, and one owner dies, the remaining owner(s) automatically take over the share of the deceased person. Something to keep in mind is that unlike joint tenancy, if the co-owner dies, you do not have rights to their share of the property.

Their share becomes part of their estate and will be distributed as determined by the person's will or state intestacy laws.

Property Issues If the Relationship Ends If a house is bought in joint names (either as joint tenants or as tenants-in-common) the division may be straightforward and the house should be split 50/50 on separation.

But if the property is in the sole name of one party, but both partners contribute to the mortgage and maintenance, there may be a battle if the couple separates.

If the property is in the sole name of one party, then basically it remains that person's property on separation, unless the other party can establish that there was a common intention that they would be entitled to a share in the property.

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