Dear Gay Realtor, My partner and I are getting married, do we need to do anything with the mortgage and home he owns individually?

You are not legally required to do anything with the mortgage and home that your partner owns when you get married. However, if legal arrangements are not made, you may not have a right to inherit the home if your spouse dies.

Dear Gay RealtorIf your name is not on the deed and no will has been made, his home will be inherited according to intestacy laws in the state that you live in. For example, since same sex marriages are not legal in Colorado, the spouse cannot inherit. In New Mexico, where same sex marriages are legal, New Mexico Statutes 45-2-102 dictates that the spouse will inherit his deceased spouse’s separate property if there are no surviving children and one fourth of the estate if there are surviving children.

If your spouse decides to add your name, he will need to file a quitclaim deed adding you as an owner of the property. When filing a quitclaim, you will need to decide how you would like to designate ownership. If you live in a state that has the designation, you could choose tenancy by the entirety. That designation gives equal ownership and transfers the ownership of the home to the surviving spouse when one of you dies.

Joint tenancy, or joint tenancy with right of survivorship in state’s that require that language, works in the same way as tenancy by the entirety. If you live in a state that requires the joint tenancy right of survivorship language and do not add it, you will own the property equally but you will not automatically inherit the home based on the deed.

The last option is tenants in common. That designation does not give right of survivorship. The deceased spouse’s half of the home will go to the person specified in his will or, if he had no will, according to the intestacy laws in the state where you live.

If you add your name to the deed but not the mortgage and your spouse dies, the mortgage holder may foreclose on the property if there are not enough funds in the estate to pay it off. Note that some mortgage holders include language in the mortgage contract that requires you to add your name to the mortgage before it can be added to the deed.

There are no legal requirements that a spouse be added to an existing mortgage other than what may be included in the mortgage contract. If you would like your name added, some mortgage companies may allow it and others may require that you refinance in both your names. If your name is added, you will both be liable for repayment of the mortgage.

The advantages and disadvantages of adding your name to your spouse’s existing house and mortgage should be evaluated before a decision is made. It would be wise to consult a real estate attorney who is experienced in LGBT law to find out what your options are and what would work best for your particular situation.

The 11 Most Gay Friendly States Now That DOMA Is Struck Down

On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act established in 1996, in favor of the recognition of same-sex marriage.  However, as of the day of that ruling only 12 states plus the District of Columbia are actually in alignment with this decision. The other 37 states still simply do not recognize gay marriage as a legal condition.

The ultimate result of this ruling is a polarization. The states that recognized gay marriage in the first place, before the striking down of DOMA, are friendlier then ever to LGBT citizens and the states that are not are more hostile (with the exception of Rhode Island and Minnesota that will officially recognize gay marriage as of August 1, 2013 and the bring the number of friendly states in the United States to fifteen.) The polarity will be made even more obvious because even though the federal government has recognized the constitutional rights of gay marriage partners the states that don’t will seem even more defiant and unethical towards LGBT spouses.

Currently the 11 friendliest gay states to move to (because they are in alignment already with the Supreme Court ruling) are;

California GayCalifornia: This hip state first began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2008 and is home to many gay friendly towns and cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Palm Springs and San Diego.

Connecticut: This progressive state enacted a civil union law in 2005 that provides same sex couples full rights, and as of 2008 automatically transformed all of these unions into marriages that are honored in towns like Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven.

Delaware: On May 7, 2013, Delaware became the 11th state to recognize same sex couples despite its rather conservative past thus playing a traditional role, as it always has, in defending the constitutional rights of Americans.

District of Columbia: Not really a state, the District of Columbia made same-sex marriage legal in 2010 after recognizing them as civil unions since 2002; the district was the first jurisdiction in the United Stets below the Mason-Dixon Line to allow same sex couples to marry and also to recognize domestic partnerships (in 1992.)

Iowa: Gay marriage became legal in Iowa in 2009 after recognizing civil unions since 2005; the state is home to Des Moines, which is a hub of cultural activity and progressive thinking in the U.S.

Maine: Maine has many gay-friendly small towns and resorts and a history of tolerance with Boston, Cambridge, Portland and South Portland leading the way when it comes to establishing gay-friendly communities.

Maryland” This is a progressive state that passed The Civil Marriage Protection Act in 2012 to recognize gay marriage and that boasts many eccentric LGBT communities, especially in Baltimore.

Massachusetts: This was one of the first states to recognize gay marriage in 2003 and is home to many gay friendly towns and cities including Boston, Provincetown and Northampton.

New Hampshire: This state first began recognizing civil unions in 2008 and gay marriage in 2010; many of its cities and quaint small towns are gay friendly including Berlin, Claremont, Franklin and Keene.

New York: Every city in this progressive state is gay friendly with The Big Apple (New York City) being the center of gay activism, theater, fashion and a huge supportive gay community.

Vermont: This state is considered a pioneer in terms of its legislative approach to LGBT rights and is known for swearing in a renowned lesbian activist, Beth Robinson, as the state’s first openly gay Supreme Court Justice.

Washington: Almost twenty percent of people who live in Washington have a post-graduate degree making this one of the most civilized and culturally sophisticated places to live in all of the United States.

These states plus the District of Columbia are the recommended places to move if you want to make the most of the financial perks, tax benefits and federal/veteran benefits now available to gay couples thanks to the repeal of DOMA.

Author Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of Free Instant Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors Coast to Coast. FREE Buyers Representation ~ Free Relocation Kit to any City, USA ~ Free Sellers Market Analysis for home sellers.