If my boyfriend and I buy a house and put it in his name only, how can I protect myself in case of a breakup/death?

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If my boyfriend and I buy a house and put it in his name only, how can I protect myself in case of a breakup/death?

We’ve been together for 4 years, have a 5 month old daughter and he has a 4 year old son. His mom lost her job andis selling him/us the house for a great price. The problem is I’m not working and my credit is bad so everything is going in his name. How can I protect myself and our daughter in case we breakup or god forbid he dies? The house has been in his family for over 20 years so I wouldn’t want to take it from them I just want to be able 2 stay there or once I start working again and paying bills know that I’ll get a return on my investment. How will things change when we get married?

Asked on June 25, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You can't protect yourself, but he can protect you. If/when he dies, you will have no legal right to anything that is not in your name. All his belongings will go by will (if he has one) or by intestate succession (if he does not). If you have one child together, that child would be entitled, under intestate succession, to some of your boyfriend's belongings, but his other child and possibly his parents will also take some of his estate. To protect in the event of his untimely passing, he needs to either execute a will in your favor, which will can either give you the house or other belongings or give you a "life estate" in the house to at least live there; or he can presently give you some interest (including potentially a life estate) in his home or other assets.

If he wants to help protect you and your child together, you should speak to an estate planning attorney about how best to do it.

If you get married, then you as his wife, and his child with you, will together inherit most of his belongings and property, unless he has a will specificlally saying you don't; his other child will also get some. Being married will give you alot of protection if he dies; the right to make health care decisions for him, if he is incapacitated; and some tax advantages, too.


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