Taking Title as a Married Couple

What is a marriage?  A contract.  You do not necessarily think about the legal ramifications at the wedding, but who inherits the house if one of you dies, or who gets the house in the case of a divorce?  You can fix that with a prenuptial agreement, you can fix the contract.    However, just because it is a contract does not mean it is enforceable.  Talk to an attorney and figure out how to make it enforceable. Getting married can change your life.  It can also change how you hold property title.  So you and your boyfriend bought a house together and took title as Tenants in Common.  The only unity there is the Unity of Possession.  Either one of you can sell your interest in the house without notice to the other owner.  But if you get married, neither of you can break the tenancy nor otherwise convey the property without consent of the spouse. Married couples hold title as Tenants by Entirety.  This includes the unities of Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship plus the Unity of Marriage, which subscribes to the legal fiction that a married couple is one entity.  You cannot disinherit your spouse.  Your wife […] Read More

Estate Planning as a Matter of Life & Death

So you are being sued for credit card debt in small claims court, do you move everything into your wife’s name?  This is where I like to encourage estate planning, not just to have your affairs in order at death, but also to be financially ready to deal with debt collection prior to assuming room temperature. Use the power of AND in your married relationship to spread risk to as many people as you can—like an insurance policy.  You are joined by AND (not OR), and that is important.  The Unity of Marriage subscribes to the legal fiction that husband and wife are one entity. If you get divorced later, you can divide the assets then, but while you are married, use the power of AND as Tenants by Entirety to secure your financial life. Read More