Do Not Add Spouse To Title Of Your House Upon Marriage Because There Is No Upside

Question: I own a home.  I have a small mortgage.  About $350,000 in equity.  My fiance wants to be on the title.  Should I put her on the title?

Answer: Why would you?  Property owned prior to marriage is separate property.  As long as the other spouse never goes on title, such property remains separate with one caveat: If there is a mortgage on the property that is paid down with community funds (i.e. both of you contribute to the mortgage you have), the community property estate develops a reimbursement right that which is not the equivalent amount of principal reduction and appreciation of the property during the marital period, but does track it.  These situations almost always require a forensic accountant to value the respective interests if a couple divorce and if it’s a bitter divorce you may have dueling experts and giant fees.  Lawyers call the analysis or tracing of separate and community property a Moore-Marsden situation. So, beware of taking such a step.  You may wish to consider a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage to make clear your respective property interests now and in the future.  Read about prenuptial agreements, which are also called premarital agreements, here.

No way you say.  My fiance will never sign a prenuptial agreement.  Okay, spend the money for an hour consultation with an attorney on what your rights and obligations are and how you can go into the marriage with knowledge of the community property ramifications of your respective actions.  It will be the best investment you make that year.

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