You just got married and you are considering putting your house into joint names with your new spouse. Some people believe, incorrectly, that once people get married, all of their property must be titled jointly. The law makes no such requirement.
However, there are good reasons for retitling your house into joint names after you marry. Assuming you do not have a prenuptial agreement that addresses this topic, placing one’s house into joint names creates a sense of marital harmony or, “We’re in this together.” By retitling your house into joint names, your home’s “equity” (the difference between its value and any mortgage debt), may be protected from either spouse’s individual creditors, including court judgments. There is, however, an important exception to this protection. Federal tax liabilities of one spouse can be collected from jointly titled real estate.
There is another, more complicated, side of this decision. Once your house is jointly titled, the law presumes the house is marital property. As long as you remain married, this presumption is of no concern. If you (or your spouse) were to decide to end the marriage, however, this retitling will increase the chances that the equity in your home will be divided equally, or that your spouse may be awarded the house.
The decision to put your house into joint names with your spouse can have both emotional and financial ramifications, both of which deserve your careful consideration.
The family law attorneys at PCB can help you make this important decision based on your particular personal and financial situation.