Buying a Home as an Unmarried Couple? Here's What to Consider


Traditionally, the path to adulthood followed a very linear progression. Couples dated, married, purchased a home, and then had children. Today, however, Pasadena family attorneys are learning that it’s becoming much more common for people to find that they’re ready to purchase a home together before they’re ready to walk down the aisle.

In most cases, experts recommend that you do not put one person's name on the deed as the sole owner of the home. Couples sometimes do this to save on taxes, but having only one name on the deed gives the recorded owner full authority to sell the house and pocket the money or leave the house to someone else if he or she passes away. If you're thinking of doing this because one person has very poor credit, take out the loan in one person’s name and add the second name immediately after. Taxes and fees may apply to the process, but this will ensure that both parties maintain a legal interest in the property.

Taking the property as joint tenants with right of survivorship is preferable because both of you share equal ownership under this arrangement. Also, if one of you were to pass away, the other would automatically become the sole owner of the property without the need to go through probate proceedings. The only potential downfall to this arrangement is that you must each legally own fifty percent of the house. If you wish to have an agreement where the more affluent partner owns a higher percentage, you must be tenants in common. Tenants in common have no automatic right of survivorship and can own the property in unequal shares. If you want to allow each other to inherit the home when you are tenants in common, you need a will that states this.

If you're buying a house together as an unmarried couple, you should sit down and discuss if marriage is something you’ll be considering in the future. The title and tax issues you face as a married couple are significantly different, and changing your marital status after purchasing your home can sometimes create complicated ownership issues.

How Can We Help?

If you would like more information about the estate planning issues related to owning a home as an unmarried couple, please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at Our Pasadena family law attorneys will ensure that your interests are protected no matter what the future holds.