Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Forms of Same Sex Joint Home Ownership

When you purchase a home with your LGBT partner, you will need to designate how you would like to hold ownership. Unfortunately, many partners do not understand the ramifications of home ownership until it is too late to do anything about it. Depending on the state that you live in, following are the advantages and disadvantages of different forms of same sex home ownership.

CoupleJoint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship
This designation means that when a partner dies, ownership of the home will transfer to the surviving partner as a matter of law. The advantage of this type of ownership is that there is no need to go through probate court to claim ownership of the home. You would simply take the death certificate to the register of deeds in the county where the property is located or file for a new deed in your name indicating that one of the owners is deceased. It should be noted that if there is a mortgage on the home, it will remain after the partner’s death unless he or she had some type of insurance that pays the mortgage in full upon death.

The disadvantage, in some cases, is that you both have equal control of the home during your lifetime. This means that you cannot get a loan against the home, sell it, give it away or will it to anyone else without your partner’s permission. Even if a partner bequeaths his interest in the home to another party in his will, it will have no effect and his interest will still revert to the surviving partner. If you decide you would like to sell the home and your partner will not agree, you could go to court and request a partition or a sale of the home. This generally becomes an issue when a relationship breaks up and one partner wants to keep the home.

Another disadvantage of this type of ownership is that either partner can break the designation. All that is needed is for one partner to go to the register of deeds and transfer his or her interest in the home to tenancy in common. That action automatically destroys the joint tenancy with right of survivorship designation.

Tenancy in Common
With this designation, both partner’s own a percentage of the home. The percentages do not have to be equal. For example, one partner could own 60 percent and the other 40 percent. The portion owned by each party is generally dictated by the amount that each partner contributed to the purchase of the home.

The disadvantage is that when one partner dies, ownership does not automatically transfer to the surviving partner. His or her half interest in the home will be distributed according to a will, if he had one, or according to the state’s intestacy laws where he resided. Intestate means to die without a will. Homes owned by tenancy in common do have to go through probate, even if the partner left a will designating the surviving partner as the beneficiary.

The exception to the above is when there are liens against the home, or the deceased’s estate does not have enough assets to pay off his or her final debts. In that case, creditors could file for a partition in a court of law to sell the home.

The legal ramifications of home ownership designations can be confusing. In order to protect your rights, you should speak with an LGBT real estate agent or attorney who is knowledgeable on the local state laws regarding real estate. If you and your partner are considering purchasing a home together, you should contact a reputable LGBT real estate agent by conducting a search on GayRealEstate.com. He or she will be aware of the local and state laws and ordinances that affect home ownership and will know a reputable attorney in the area that can advise you of your options related to home ownership.

Home Buying and the Big Gay Merge (moving in together)

Buying a home and moving in together is an exciting time in your life. The process of home buying and moving in together can be stressful and can cause tension in your relationship. The following tips on home buying and the big gay merge can help you reach your goal while enjoying yourself along the way.

Couple1. Work out your finances. Have a discussion about your income, debts and credit history. A review of your finances can help you decide how much you can afford to pay for a home.

2. Work out a budget that includes your anticipated mortgage payment, taxes, insurance, utilities and other household expenses. You should then decide how much each of you will contribute to the household each month. You should also decide how much each of you will contribute each month to a slush fund to be used for emergencies.

3. Set up joint checking and savings accounts. The checking account should be funded with each of your agreed upon contributions each month and used for paying household expenses. Your slush fund contributions should be deposited into the savings  account and used for emergency household repairs and for saving to meet your future goals. Note that you can have the account set up as “and” if you want both of you to sign the checks, or “or” if you want either one of you to be able to sign the checks or withdraw funds. For example, John Doe and Jim Doe, or John Doe or Jim Doe.

4. Put it all in writing. During this exciting time, you may not feel that you need to put anything in writing because you are confident in your relationship. The reason that you need to do that is to make you both feel more comfortable with your decisions. It’s mainly for dispute resolution. It will not be legally binding unless, according to law, unless there is an offer from one party to provide money, goods or perform a service and an acceptance where the second party is agreeing to provide money, goods or perform services in return. For example, one party offers money in return for a service, such as remodeling your home. Your agreement will eliminate any arguments over who was supposed to do what.

Draft a domestic partnership agreement that includes each partner’s responsibilities and what will happen to the house and joint property if your relationship does not work out. You can add to the agreement as additional issues and decisions are made.

5. Hire a real estate agent to help you with finding and purchasing your new home. An agent who specializes in working with LGBT couples will have a better idea of what your needs are and will make you feel more comfortable being yourself. In addition, hiring an LGBT agent that you trust can help relieve much of the stress involved in purchasing a new home together. He will discuss the steps involved and assist you throughout the entire process. For more information, see our article Top 10 Reasons to Hire a Gay Realtor for your Home Purchase.

The steps listed above are designed to help you get started with your goal of home buying and the big gay merge. An experienced local LGBT gay real estate agent can discuss all aspects of purchasing your new home with you.