Three Ways to Purchase a Home as an Unmarried Couple

Unmarried couples basically have three options when it comes to purchasing a home together.  They can purchase the home as Joint Tenant with Rights of Survivorship, Tenants in Common, or neither.  When purchasing a home together as an unmarried couple, you must decide if you want the property to automatically pass on to your significant other if you die; or if you want to be able to bequeth your share of the property to someone else through your will or through a trust.  You must also decide if you want to purchase the home together with equal or unequal shares of ownership.

Purchasing a Home as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship

Purchasing a home as joint tenants with right of survivorship is the most common form of home ownership for couples.  Joint tenancy with right of survivorship means that each person owns the undivided whole of the home.  One person cannot exclude the other.  Both persons have co-equal ownership of the entire home.  According to Ohio statute, each tenant has equal right to share in the use, occupancy, and profit of the property, and each of the survivorship tenants is subject to a proportionate share of the costs related to ownership and use of the property.  When one person dies, their ownership share automatically passes to the other tenant.  For example, if Tom and Sue own a house as joint tenants with right of survivorship and then Tom dies, then automatically upon his death Sue owns the entire house.  

Purchasing a Home as Tenants in Common

Purchasing a home as tenants in common has advantages if unequal ownership shares is desirable.  With tenants in common, the property can be purchased as a percentage of ownership.  For example, if one person makes the entire downpayment and wants an extra ownership share in the property because they spent more money on the house, then they could purchase the home with something like a 70% - 30% split of ownership.  Additionally, each partner can sell all or a portion of their fractional interest or can devise it to anyone by will.  Owning a home as tenants in common is a good option if you want to leave your ownership share of the home to someone other than the person living in the home with you.  This option also would be necessary if you do not want to be equal owners of the home with the other owner.  

Contact an Attorney to Purchase a Home as an Unmarried Couple

If you want to talk to an attorney knowledgeable in the unmarried couple rights and Ohio real property law, then contact an attorney at Harris & Engler to discuss how to best structure your purchase of a home.  Call (614) 610-9988 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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