Adding your same sex partner’s name to the deed of your home is relatively simple. You would need to complete a quitclaim deed, have it notarized and file it with your county registry of deeds. Some states also require witnesses or your partner’s signature on the quitclaim deed before it can be filed. Although the process is simple, the consequences of adding your partner to your deed should be seriously considered before taking that step.
Unless you prepare a contract setting out your partner’s responsibilities in relation to making payments or other compensation for a share of the property, you are giving him or her a gift of a percentage of the equity in your home free of any legal obligations. Depending on the type of co-ownership that you choose when filing the quitclaim deed, your partner may have privileges including the right to obtain a security loan or to sell his or her share of the home.
The types of co-ownership that are available to same sex partners include joint tenancy, joint tenancy with right of survivorship and tenancy in common. Joint tenancy gives equal ownership to both parties. Joint tenancy with right of survivorship gives equal ownership and automatically passes ownership to the surviving partner when one of you dies. Tenancy in common allows unequal shares with no right of survivorship. For example, you can own 75 percent and your partner 25 percent of the home. When there is no right of survivorship, the deceased partners percentage of the home will pass to the person named in his or her will or according to the intestacy laws in the state of residency if your partner did not have a will.
Filing a quitclaim does not add your partner on your mortgage and he or she will have no legal obligation to make mortgage payments. If your home has a mortgage, you should check your deed of trust to ensure that adding your partner’s name will not trigger the mortgage holder to demand payment of the entire amount owed because of a due-on-sale or transfer provision. You can avoid this by asking the mortgage holder to give you written approval to add your partner. If they refuse, your options include paying the mortgage in full or refinancing in both of your names.
The information above includes some of the consequences of adding your same sex partner to the deed of your home. You should consult a real estate attorney who is experienced in LGBT law, or a gay realtor at GayRealEstate.com to find out more about the advantages and disadvantages for your particular situation.