Nowadays, more and more couples cohabit before getting married and many live together indefinitely without doing so. The majority of the cohabiting couples accumulate a good amount of joint assets, but do not contemplate how the assets would be divided if the relationship ends.
The reality is that no matter how long the relationship lasts, in terms of property, the law continues to treat the members of the couple as two separate individuals without rights or responsibilities in case the relationship ends.
Below, you will find some points about your property that cohabiting couples should keep in mind.
Joint purchase of properties
Before buying a house or any other significant asset together, decide how you will own the property. By doing this they will protect their rights in case a member of the couple dies or the relationship ends. Basically, they must decide if they will be co-owners or if they will have a tenure in common.
Co – owners . Co-ownership is a form of property in which the ownership of a good is shared equally. All co-owners have the same amount of participation in joint ownership property. When two or more people are express co-owners of a property and one of them dies, the rest of the owners automatically receive the part corresponding to the deceased. This is known as the “right of survival.”
Tenure in common . If they decide to be joint owners, each will own a different part of the property. You decide the percentage of each part. For example, if one contributes 25 percent of the purchase price, then their share in the property could reflect that percentage. It must be borne in mind that, unlike joint tenancy, if in joint tenure the co-owner dies, the others do not have rights to the deceased’s property. Your property will become part of your property and will be distributed as determined by the will of the deceased or the estate right of your state.
The property when the relationship ends
If the couple buys a house on behalf of both (either as co-owners or as joint owners) the division can be direct and the house should be divided equally at the time of separation. However, if the property is in the name of a single person, but both parties contributed to the payment of the mortgage and its maintenance, there could be a struggle for the property if the couple separates.
If the property is in the name of a person, that person will be the owner at the time of separation unless the other party can establish that there was a common intention to share property rights. Proving this intention is difficult, unless it is in writing or there is proof that both parties contributed to the purchase of the property, the payment of the mortgage and the maintenance.
Cohabiting couples, property and death
Another essential issue for cohabiting couples is to consider their wishes in case of death. Unless each member of the couple makes a will and designates the other as their beneficiary, their inheritance will be shared according to state laws for intestate successions. Intestate succession is a method prescribed by the state to distribute a person’s property when that person did not leave a will at death.
Each state has its own laws, but generally the property is distributed between the spouse and the children of the deceased. If the person was not married or had children at the time of death, the property will be divided between parents, siblings, uncles, nephews, and other distant relatives. The deceased’s partner will receive nothing. For this reason it is important that cohabiting couples write wills or other documents where they express their long-term plans.
A will is a legal document in which a person expresses his will about what he wishes to do with his debts, property and minor children after his death. Provisions must be complied with unless they are illegal or impossible. A will allows the person to name the beneficiaries of their property, forgive debts, appoint guardians for children, create trusts, appoint an executor of their inheritance and even disinherit some relatives. Leaving a will or a trust is an effective way to protect your partner if you die. Consult a lawyer specializing in family law to create a document that reflects your needs and wishes regarding your partner.
Cohabiting couples: how to get the help of a lawyer
If you are living with your partner and / or thinking about getting married, a lawyer specializing in family law can help you get the best possible result. The first step is to find a lawyer specializing in family law in your area .