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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Buying a home before marriage could lead to probate issues

According to a recent report, more and more couples in a committed relationship are buying a house for themselves even before they get married. According to this report, 25 percent of those couples between ages 18 and 34 purchase a house before they say their wedding vows.

While this practice might make logical sense in the eyes of many Minnesotans, it also carries with it the possibility of a probate fight should one of the spouses die unexpectedly.

The surviving spouse in this situation may expect to receive the house as an inheritance, especially if they and their significant other intermingled funds and bought the home with "their" money. The survivor would likely be surprised if the beneficiaries under the deceased spouse's will were to make a claim to the home.

There are ways for an unmarried couple to make sure that their interests in a jointly purchased home are legally protected, and each party should be aware of those options before the couple buys the home. In Minnesota, there are several different types of deeds under which a person can share home ownership with another person, and each of these types of deeds has different legal consequences after a co-owner's death.

Sometimes, however, these transactions can be inherently difficult to make completely impervious to litigation. Particularly in a relationship that does not involve marriage, other family members could try to make a claim on a couple's home. In such situations, an experienced Minnesota probate litigation attorney can be of valuable assistance.

Source: Forbes, "First comes love, then comes mortgage? 5 tips for unmarried couples buying a house together," July 7, 2014

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