I recently married my spouse who owns a house to which he wishes to add my name. Is there a form for such a situation?
As they used to say in the old westerns "Whoooooahhhh?! Before you jump the gun, there partner, you should certainly give some thought to all the different issues that could be raised. Some may be good, some may be bad, but think it through before you act. First of all, putting your name on a house is certainly a noble gesture by your new spouse. If you, for example, have substantial liability exposure because of the nature of your business or practice (perhaps you are a doctor, perhaps you have a plumbing business and provide plumbing repair services in people's homes but have never incorporated your business, etc.) think twice before subjecting your spouse's house to additional liability risk. If this is a second or later marriage, is there a prenuptial agreement? Are there children from prior marriages that may be affected by this? Do you have any desire for how the house should be distributed in the event of a divorce? Depending on the circumstances and the amounts involved, it may be appropriate to retain matrimonial counsel for each of you to address this. In any event, before you do anything, you have to consult with a real estate attorney in your state. There are many ways to have your name "added" to the property. This will be accomplished probably in all events by having the house retitled, which means a deed transfer from your wife to both of you. For example, if your wife's name is Jane Doe, the deed may presently read simply as owned by "Jane Doe". The new deed would be a transfer from "Jane Doe" to "Jane Doe and John Doe, husband and wife". This would result in many states as a "tenants by the entirety". This is a specific form of ownership reserved for husbands and wives and may actually provide some measure of asset protection planning in the event either of you individually is sued. Another approach would be for the house to be conveyed by deed to "Jane Doe and John Doe, as tenants-in-common". This means you each have an interest in the property which you could bequeath or divide individually. The result of this would be to facilitate the funding of a by-pass trust under either of your wills if the estate now, or in the future, becomes large enough to warrant this type of estate tax planning. There may be other ways the house can be owned by the two of you depending on your state law. Thus, the real answer is to consult with not only a real estate attorney in your state, but to make certain that attorney has enough general legal and tax knowledge to advise you on the asset protection and tax benefits of what you are doing. Take a look at the general article on the site concerning how property can be owned before your meeting with the attorney since this might give you a few points to discuss. Caution: The above advice is general advice and cannot possibly address your particular situation due to the dearth of facts provided. Estate law, estate taxation, and your unique circumstances will clearly affect any ultimate answer. Be certain to contact your attorney and accountant, preferably licensed and practicing in the state where you operate before proceeding with any plan.
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