Marriage and Real Estate: A Brief Tour

When two married people own real estate together, how do their rights work? Here, we walk though the most basic questions about couples and their homes.

How Do Married Couples Share Home Ownership?

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Spouses own a home in one of three ways:

  • As a tenancy by the entirety,
  • A joint tenancy with survivorship rights, or
  • A tenancy in common.

The first two of those include rights of survivorship. This means that after one spouse passes away, the living spouse records an affidavit of survivorship along with the late spouse’s death certificate, and then becomes the sole owner on the title. Here are the unique traits of each type of vesting: 

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If You Inherit a House, Act. A Cautionary Tale About Putting Off Probate

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A Cautionary Tale About Putting Off Probate

Five years ago in Texas, John died, willing his house to a nephew, A.W.

Today, A.W. wants to get ready to sell the house, and pay off some debt.

Here’s the rub. The will never went through probate, and a different relative of John’s has been living in the home all this time.

Who gets the house?

A.W. was named as the next owner in the will, and never refused the deed. So, legally, A.W. owns it, right? Wrong. Procrastination is the thief of assets, as A.W. learned the hard way. A will does not enact itself. It has to be probated according to a timeline. 

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When a Spouse, Partner, or Relative Dies: What’s Next for the Home?

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Real Estate and Death

Homes are complicated assets. When a homeowner dies, this becomes obvious. When loved ones are experiencing grief and loss, the real estate details can border on overwhelming.

If someone in your life died holding an interest in real estate, here is some general guidance. You might have some actions to take, depending on the situation.

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Age-Restricted Communities: How They Affect Your Real Estate

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Looking at homes in a 55+ community? You might wonder: Will I be able to leave my age-restricted condo home to my children?  

Before buying your new home in an age-restricted community, check the homeowners’ association rules on inheritance. Your realtor might have mentioned two pertinent guidelines these communities follow: the nationwide 80/20 rule, and the property’s own minimum age rule. We’ll flesh out these guidelines here.

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Homeowner Estate Planning: Real Estate Tips

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Ready to move estate planning to the front burner? Homeowners, especially, need to have a plan in place. If there is no will, and no other arrangements for the home to pass to a co-owner, it will pass according to the state intestacy provisions. That’s not an estate plan. There’s no better time than the present to choose a beneficiary, and make an estate plan.  

Here is the basic set of options, and how they might play out—financially, legally, and in emotional terms. We include a few tips to note in the process. Any or all could be a great conversation starter with your lawyer or financial adviser. Schedule a talk with family or other beneficiaries, too.

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Should You Get a Reverse Mortgage? Consider This.

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Time to start a new chapter in your life? A reverse mortgage can be an option if your goals include:

  • Getting a degree.
  • Helping someone else through college.
  • Covering major dental or medical expenses.
  • Starting new creative projects or business ideas.
  • Enjoying recreation and travel.
  • Having funds to tide you over until you qualify for full Social Security benefits.

A reverse mortgage is available to homeowners who have paid off most or all of their mortgages. The name describes a lender’s monthly payments to the homeowner, rather than the reverse.   

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The Golden Years, With a Paid-Off Mortgage

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We’ve talked about scams, and the risks that can be involved in delegating a power of attorney to another person. Now, let’s uplift the mood. Visualize the day you submit that very last mortgage payment.

Congrats! Your debt is satisfied.

Your certificate of satisfaction can now be recorded in the county where your home is. If your home is in a deed of trust state, the deed of trust now comes off your title. A deed of reconveyance is the deed of trust state’s equivalent to the deed of release of mortgage.

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