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Setting Up Home With An Unmarried Partner

View profile for Paul Hajek
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Update: this blog has now been updated, and you can view it here.

It is now quite common for people to set up home before getting married or undertaking a civil partnership, as the Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband and his partner Justine Thornton did, before their marriage over the weekend

Good legal advice on how to protect each partner’s share in the property (which we are sure Mr. Miliband and Ms. Thornton would have received) is also available to everyone.

The legal advice would be also very relevant, if the intention was never to get married or form a civil partnership

When setting up home with a partner you should consider the following:

1. PUT the deeds of your property into joint names.

This way you will not encounter problems of sharing in the profits on sale, especially where you may have contributed to improving the property.

It also eliminates a potential crisis if the named owner asks you to leave the property.

2. DECIDE whether you would like to own the whole property jointly (known as a joint Tenancy) or whether you prefer a predetermined share e.g. 50/50 or 60/40

3. HOW should any profits (and any losses) on sale be divided?

If you have put in an unequal share rather than simply having your capital returned on sale or transfer, you can have your contribution expressed as a percentage.

This can be achieved again with your Conveyancing Solicitor by way of a document called a Declaration of Trust.

That way, if your relationship doesn’t work out each partner will know exactly how much of the net sale proceeds will be his or hers to receive. This avoids an area of potential conflict.

It can also alter the figures more than you might expect depending on which option you choose

4. WORK OUT your ongoing running expenses for your new property. 

From where and how will the expenditure be apportioned?

Again, if unequal you might consider a “Cohabitation Agreement” with the help of your Conveyancing Solicitor.

These documents are by no means uncommon, and both partners will benefit from full disclosure of finances and getting things of your mind right at the beginning.

The Deed could always be ripped up at a later date or reviewed and renewed as the partners see fit, or when you decide to tie the knot, as marriage can still be colloquially known.

5. MAKE a WILL. This is essential advice, especially where you have decided to hold the property as Tenants in Common.

Without a Will there is no absolutely guarantee that the property will go to your partner on death. In fact, in the worst case scenario, with no agreement with the executors of the deceased partner, you might be forced to sell the property and only receive your original share.

Although, the general advice will be the same, individual circumstances will vary, and you should obtain specific advice from your Conveyancing and Wills Solicitors.

Please feel free to contact us at Clutton Cox as we can help and at a guaranteed fixed fee.