If I’m not married but have been with my partner for 30 years and the house and car are in his name, when he dies what rights do I have to them?

Could a Will help? The house and car are in his name due to better loan rate without me.

Asked on October 13, 2015 under Estate Planning, New Mexico


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Answer if he dies and you are not married and are not on the title, then you have NO rights to them unless he leaves them to you in a will. Leaving together for 30 years--or even 50 or 60--does not convey any rights to property. So either he needs to put you on the title now or he needs to will the property to you.
When he dies, if he dies before you, the loans will become due. If you or his estate i.e. the money, etc. in his bank account can pay off the remaining loans, you can keep the house and car. Or you could discuss refinancing in your name with the lenders, but it's not guaranteed you'll be able to do that.
Putting property in your son's name is dangerous you may feel you have a good relationship and he is  dutiful son, but suppose that once he has the property he wants to keep it for himself, or sell it and keep the proceeds? Legally, he can do that. You will make yourself vulnerable.
There are other options for you to explore, such as putting property in a trust having a life estate in the house while leaving the "remainder" after you pass interest to your son etc. Since there are many options, with different pros and cons, you are advised to consult with a trusts and estates or estate planning attorney to set up an estate plan that works best for you.

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