Cohabitation of gay couples have yet to be recognized by America’s court system except in a few states that have legalized gay marriage. As this is so, guidelines for the dissolution of property between same sex couples is critical, and must be determined before the sickness or death of either person.
There are a few options to ensure your partner is allowed to inherit the home you have shared.
One way to ensure that your home stays with your partner would be to take title to the property as “joint tenants” this would ensure upon either person’s death, the property would belong legally, 100 percent to the remaining partner.
A second option would be to take title together as “tenants in common” which would allow the legal will of the deceased to determine how his/her share of the assets including the house are distributed.
Either of these options is relatively simple and can be accomplished quite reasonably with your attorney, or gay real estate professional.
Another excellent way to ensure your home goes to your partner is to have a will. A will is a simple legal document that is drawn up by a lawyer or yourself, at places like LegalZoom.com, naming someone, in this case, your partner, as the person to manage your estate upon your death–outlining your specific desires in reference to all aspects of your estate.
Couples may have children and even family members who believe it is their right to inherit your home. If you find it necessary, and helpful, you may sit down with your family and next of kin. Discuss the issues that have been faced because you are not allowed to get married. Advanced lines of communication throughout your relationship will deter the fighting and bickering that can occur when no one is sure how you wanted your things to be handled. It is natural for your parents and siblings to believe you would want all of your property to be inherited by them, if they don’t understand your relationship and commitment.
Discussing your wishes beforehand can eliminate issues later on, but always ensure any of these conversations are preceded with the proper legal documentation. Unless you have specific legal documents in place upon your or your partner’s death, state laws generally hand over financial decision-making and inheritance to blood relatives rather than domestic partners.
In a “traditional marriage” the surviving “wife or husband” inherits all of the couple’s assets without incurring any tax penalty. But with the LGBT community, your partner will pay taxes on any inheritance over the federal exemption, check with your CPA for specific details.
Always check with a gay-friendly lawyer to ensure the laws in your city, state and county follow the general guidelines given above before proceeding on any course of action; a great source for a gay, lesbian or gay friendly lawyer is GayLawyer.com.
Author Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of www.GayRealEstate.com ~ Free Instant Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors in every city coast-to-coast, offering free Buyers Representation.
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