What steps should you take before co-habiting?
Posted on 21st January 2020
Now I know that I sound like the voice of doom but before setting up home with a partner you really should consider what happens if it all goes wrong. Let’s face it we are human and to be human is to accept that we are not perfect. That chewing sound your partner makes when eating may seem cute now but after living in each other’s pockets for 6 months, that chewing sound may become the reason why you don’t think a seeing your local family solicitor for advice, would be all that bad anyway.
1. Make sure the deeds are in Joint Names
If you purchase a property and put it in your partners name then things can become tricky if you want to share the profits upon the sale of the property, especially if you have contributed to mortgage payments! Having the property in joint names can also prevent the named owner from asking you to leave the property should you decide to separate.
2. Will the property be jointly owned or in equal or unequal shares.
This is one to look out for. Whilst this may sound similar the potential outcomes can be very different. You need to decide whether you would like equal rights (joint tenants), or a predetermined share (tenants in common), such as 70/30, 60/40.
If you decide to be ‘joint tenants’, you may still receive a sum of the property when you sell, and regardless of whether or not it is written in a Will, you will inherit the property if your other half passes away.
However, if you go for the ‘tenants in common’ option, you are only entitled to your specific share in the property, and no more.
3. Suggest asking your Conveyancing Solicitor to draw up a Declaration of Trust.
That way you can formally record who owns what percentage of a property so if there is a separation each of you knows what to except from the sale proceeds. Other contingencies can cover non-payment of the mortgage, death and one partner not living at the property for a defined period.
So, if you break up, this document will save you a lot of money, time and hassle and also give you reassurance and peace of mind.
4. Cohabitation Agreement
Think, Sheldon Cooper and his Roommate Agreement. Work out what the running costs are going to be for the property and clearly define who will be expected to pay for these. Are you each going to pay a certain amount of money into a joint bank account each month to cover the costs of the property or will one of you pay for all of the bills whilst the other pays for the weekly food shop, meals out, decorating and the like. Such an agreement would not be enforceable by the Court, but they would be honourable agreements helping to you to set clear expectations of each other.
As a local property solicitor, we would always advise that you and your Partner should ensure that you both take independent legal advice before signing such a document. Cohabitation Agreements are inexpensive, and will circumvent any disagreement relating to property ownership should you and your partner decide to part ways.
5. Make a Will
A Will, will protect you! Especially if you have decided to hold the property as Tenants in Common. If you hold the property as Tenants in Common, there is no guarantee that your Partner will get the property if you were to pass away. Even if it were your express wish for your Partner to remain in the property; without a Will if your executors decide to sell the property and your Partner can’t afford to buy your share then your Partner will have to agree to the sale.
Most importantly look for a Property Law Solicitor or Conveyancer who are willing to give you a fixed price for any additional Deeds or Documents and will also provide a fixed fee guarantee with no hidden costs. MG Legal offer this service so call us today on Preston 01995 602 129, or get in touch with our solicitors in Lancaster, on 01524 581306, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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