Adding Friend to Property Deed

Q: My boyfriend and I have lived together for 3 years. He is buying a home and wants to add me to the deed after all the paper work is done.

How would that work in the state of Florida? Do you know what the cost would be to add me to the deed?

A: Adding you to the title in many states can cost almost nothing. All you have to do is pay for a quit claim deed and then the filing fee for recording it. You need to talk to the recorder of deeds office in the state in which you live to make sure that the cost of recording this type of deed will be inexpensive.

The question your boyfriend has to answer is what is he trying to accomplish by adding you to the title? Is he trying to protect your right to continue to live in the property if he dies suddenly? Is he trying to avoid writing a will? Is this about estate issues? In almost any case, your boyfriend would be better off if he added you to the deed when buying the house, not after. Adding you to the deed at the time of the closing may pose problems with his lender but in many cases it’s very doable. The real issue is if he adds you to the deed and you guys break up, what will happen to the property?

If you were married, there is plenty of law behind what each spouse is entitled to in case of a breakup, but in your case, as unmarried partners, the law isn’t as clear.

After he buys the property, adding your name to the title would be construed as a gift and could cause gift tax issues down the line. Having you on title may allow you to take deductions on your federal income tax return to which you would otherwise would not be entitled. You and your boyfriend would have to decide who would get the tax benefits from the ownership of the home.

If you get married, these issues may disappear, but you should still talk about them now.

If your boyfriend wants to protect your interest in the property, but decides against adding you to the title, he can write a will that state you will inherit the home when he passes. If you two break up, he can write a new will.

He should consider talking to a real estate attorney or estate planning attorney about his options and other issues involved.


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