Real Property Series – Part 3 & 4 of 4: Dissolution & Conclusion

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By B. Lafe Metz, Esq. & Tyler S. Dischinger, Esq.

This four part series addresses several broad issues encountered by nontraditional couples regarding the acquisition, ownership and transfer of real property. If you have not yet read part 1 or two, click here.  (See NOTE.)

  • In jurisdictions where nontraditional couples do not have the benefit of marriage statutes, they likewise do not have access to the corresponding divorce procedures. This makes for a more complicated and less predictable scenario should the two partners choose to part ways.
    Without a legal default to guide the way, it is important for the parties to be proactive by documenting their agreement about owning and maintaining the property, and keeping records of who has paid which expenses so each partner has evidence of his/her contribution to the jointly-owned property.
  • A formal joint tenancy or tenant in common agreement is often beneficial to establish a record of contributions, allocate responsibilities and benefits, and provide an agreed form of dispute resolution. While it is sometimes difficult for a couple to sit down and discuss business issues, especially early in a relationship, both partners and the relationship itself will ultimately benefit from clear communication and mutual understanding.
  • Ideally, each partner should be represented by independent counsel in the negotiation and execution of a joint tenancy or tenant in common agreement.

Conclusion

Nontraditional couples often own real property either as joint tenants with right of survivorship or as tenants in common. A discussion with counsel may help determine which approach is right for your family. Under either type of ownership, it is usually beneficial for the partners to enter into a written agreement addressing their respective ownership rights and obligations and providing mechanisms for future sales, leases, or mortgages of the property as well as dispute resolution procedures. If we may be helpful to your family in any way, please call Lafe Metz at 412-562-1044 or Tyler Dischinger at 412-562-1387.

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