What are my rights to a house that I shared with my late fiancé?

A few months ago my fiancé of 6 1/2 years and father of my children was unexpectedly killed in a rollover accident with our truck. We shared a house together for 2 1/2 years before he died and were both present at the signing of the land contract between him and the owners. The land contract was in his name only since the owner is a preacher and his wife and himself decided since we weren’t married they only wanted his name on it. I was there again, and I frequently signed my own name to the house payment each month. My name is the only name in my state farm insurance policy that has held the home insurance the duration of us living there. When he passed away, I wasn’t and still am not sure of my rights and options.

Asked on July 21, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

While it would be worthwhile speaking to a real estate attorney in detail, to see if you do, somehow, have rights, most likely you have no rights to the house:

1) Being engaged is not a legal relationship--it gives you no rights. Engagement is a custom, not the law.

2) Only the person on the title is legally an owner.

3) Helping make payments or providing insurance does not give you any rights over property, especially when you were getting a benefit (i.e. living there) at the time--i.e. you were already receiving something for the payments you made, a place to live (similar to paying rent; and like paying rent, making the payments does not give you any rights to the property).

4) Being present at signing the contract is irrelevant.

5) Living in a place does  not give you rights to it.

In short, nothing you have written indicates that you have any rights, but again, it would be worthwhile to double check by consulting with a real estate attorney in detail.


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