Protecting financial assets when couples live together

On behalf of The Walters Law Group, Ltd. posted in Unmarried Couples on Wednesday, May 15, 2013.

Statistics show that almost half of U.S. adults between the ages of 30 and 49 have lived together without the benefit of marriage. Marriage offers a number of benefits that living together does not. A break up is rarely easy, but when couples who are older separate, the problems are compounded, especially if they have additional assets. In some cases, the law doesn’t afford legal protections to unmarried people, especially in financial matters and in some child custody situations.

With low interest rates for mortgages, unwed couples might buy a home. The residence will belong to the person whose name is on the legally recorded deed. However, if they break up and both their names are on the deed, they are still both financially responsible for the home. If one party owns a residence and the second party moves in, they may both contribute to the mortgage. However, the second party is not entitled to any part of the home in the event of a break up.

Individuals can protect themselves from this scenario by following several steps. First, brainstorm through the situation. Discuss options. Write down plans. Have an attorney review the documents. Draw up a will if needed.

A will protects both parties. Without one, assets will go to next of kin, not a partner. Even if the couple has been together for years, the law considers them strangers unless a legal document connects them. A will is especially important if one of the parties has significant assets.

Other factors can also affect unwed partners. They also need to consider health care plans and possible taxation. In a medical emergency, a partner has no say unless they have drawn up a health care directive.

A number of unique considerations affect unmarried couples who decide to live together. A family attorney might be able to provide solid counsel regarding economics, child custody and other relevant matters.

Source: MSN Money, “Moving in together? 5 tips“, May 08, 2013