What are my options?

In my and other attorneys' eyes, these are your alternatives:

Owned by a Trust

This is the best alternative we have come to, and most attorneys would recommend this to their clients for collectively buying a house as unmarried individuals.

Historically, the problem has been the cost—attorneys routinely charge between $2,000 and $5,000 to draft a trust and counsel you in its use.

But that’s history.  The NoSpouseHouse Trust is developed by trust attorneys and fully customized and designed by your attorney for your needs and circumstances.  And the price is a fraction of what attorneys charge for drafting you a document that’s either indistinguishable from or worse than the NoSpouseHouse Trust.

One owner + Strategy

Here’s some creative options that have some potential, with varying degrees of costs associated with each alternative:

  • One person owns it, and both that person and the others rent from them with a proper rental/lease agreement.
  • One person owns it, and executes a promissory note (a promise and obligation to pay) for the benefit of the others for their share of the debt owed on the property, with terms that mirror the primary mortgage on the property.
  • One person owns it, and puts it into a corporation or LLC which the other owners get ownership interests in.
  • Multiple people own it through a tenants-in-common agreement.
  • A business entity owns it, and multiple people own their units through a declaration of condominium.

One owner + strategies


Tenancy by the Entirety
Even if your state recognizes a tenancy by the entirety, which all states do not do, tenancy by the entirety is not available to unmarried individuals.  In a tenancy by the entirety, the creditors of an individual spouse cannot attach and sell the interest of the debtor.  This protects the non-debtor spouse’s interest in the house in the event that the other spouse is in debt or files bankruptcy.

This type of co-ownership is determined by an examination of the language on a title, deed or stock certificate.  Generally, they appear as “x and y, as husband and wife.”

Two+ Owners

Joint Tenants
With joint tenancy (JT), sometimes also referred to as a joint tenancy with right of survivorship (JTWROS), two or more people own property together.  Each person has an equal share in the property.  As in tenancy in common ownership, each joint tenant has an undivided interest in the property, and each joint tenant may request a court order for partition and sale if that owner wants to terminate the joint tenancy, which will make it into a tenancy-in-common.

The major difference between joint tenants and tenants-in-common becomes obvious at the death of one of the owners.  With joint tenancy, there is a right of survivorship which means that the other tenants inherit the dead tenant’s share.  If there are multiple surviving tenants, each one takes in equal porportion.  Even if a joint tenant has a will that attempts to pass that joint tenant’s ownership to others, the law of joint tenancy takes precedence.

Tenants in Common
Tenancy in common (sometimes abbreviated as TIC) is a form of property co-ownership where two or more owners have a separate but undivided interest in the property. Each owner can mortgage their portion, or transfer it freely. Each tenant has the right to possess the entire property, but may not exclude the other tenants in common, or else they will be subject to a claim of ouster (which seeks damages for not being able to use the property).

This type of co-ownership is determined by an examination of the language on a title, deed or stock certificate. Most commonly, the words “and” and “or” create a tenancy in common.