Q: My mother-in-law has inherited one-third of her mother’s house in California, and she is planning to buy the other two-thirds from the other heirs.

She asked my husband and me to join her in this purchase and become co-owners of half the house. The idea is that we would all live together and make equal mortgage payments.

However, my mother-in-law has more cash to put down on the property than we do. This would be our first house. I think we should consult a real estate attorney about a partnership agreement. What should we consider before entering this deal?

A: Your mother-in-law may be thinking that she wants her son to inherit this family property someday and is working on a way for that to happen. Or, she might be worried that you cannot afford to buy as nice a home with the way property values are skyrocketing in California.

Whatever her reasons, you’re right to think about starting this journey with the help of a real estate attorney who can help you think about all of the issues involved, including how you, your husband, and your mother-in-law will hold title to the property, who will be responsible for making what payments and repairs, and what will happen should someone decide to sell his or her interest in the home.

This kind of situation can work well for everyone, if you make sure all of the sticky issues are discussed ahead of time. A few hours with a real estate attorney can help clear the air and give you a firm foundation on which to move in.