The home buying landscape is changing. Fewer people are getting married and there are more common-law unions than ever before. Those who are tying the knot are waiting longer to do so; often couples bring with them children from previous relationships making new blended families. People are also buying homes in partnership with a friend, a business partner or relative. With these changing dynamics, it's important to know that buying a home together does not have to mean owning equal shares. There are options.
The traditional equal home ownership arrangement is “joint tenancy”, where in the event of a death, the deceased person's share automatically goes to the surviving partner. In more modern arrangements, there may be children from a previous union who are intended to inherit instead of the other owner; or one of the partners may be prepared to pay all or most of the down payment or renovation costs. They may want this larger contribution to amount to more than a 50 per cent stake in the house.
“Tenancy-in-common is an ownership solution for these not-so-straightforward situations,” said Ray Leclair, vice president of public affairs at LAWPRO. “Couples can choose the ownership split that is most fair to their situation, and these shares are independent of each other. They can be given, by will, however each person chooses, whether to children from previous marriages, to each other, to parents, siblings or others. Whatever your individual circumstances, a qualified real estate lawyer can help you put an ownership solution in place to avoid complications down the road.”
The TitlePLUS Real Simple Real Estate Guide at www.titleplus.ca is a good source of information on the role of your lawyer, as well as tools such as mortgage calculators and a locate-a-lawyer feature.