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Dear Christine, Right in Redford

| September 6, 2016

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Dear Christine,

I’ve lived with my partner for 10 years. She moved into a house I already owned. An issue has recently come up about the house. She wants to be put on the title.  I understand that if something were to happen to me that she would want the security of staying in the home we share, however, I have a daughter who I’ve always planned to leave the house to. I have never acquired much in the way of wealth but there is $100k equity in the home and I want to leave it to my daughter.  I’ve made that clear.  Am I in the right with this?

Sincerely, Right in Redford

Dear Right,

You are right.  It’s your property and your call, your priorities and your wishes.  That’s what wills are all about.  Is it fair?  Is it what is best?  Your partner may have other ideas.  If you legally marry your partner, she automatically is on the deed and is your legal next of kin, should you die.  And if you decide to sell the house when you are legally married to your partner, you both have to be at the closing and sign those dozens of papers.
Since you are not legally married, your daughter is your next of kin, so legally she will get the house (after probate court if you don’t leave a will).  If you sell the house now, you are the only one who has to be at closing, as you are the only owner. 

However, there is another way!  Which is why we have a lawyer also answering this question.  You can draw up a will where both your partner and your daughter get the house!  See Daniel Gwinn, Esq, “Ask a Lawyer” answer below.

A will can specify exactly what you want done with your estate after you die.  You can use a will to make a statement, such as cutting a “black sheep” child out of the will while leaving all the good children in, if you had a lot of children.  I just read about a man who never spent his money and when he died, his family learned that he had amassed $8,000,000!  But he also left a will and did not leave that fortune to anyone in the family! 

I know someone who complains bitterly that her partner is leaving their house to her in the will, but is leaving most of the other investments to the children.  This person complains that those adult children will be better off financially than she will be, when her partner dies.  There is a will, but there is not a legal marriage. 

Think carefully about what you want to convey to those left behind when you die.  And make a will!
These are tough conversations, but better to have them while you can, and be clear about what your priorities are for those you leave behind.  After all, all that is guaranteed in life is death, and taxes.
Take care,

Christine Cantrell, PhD,


Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067

Click here to email Christine.

See Daniel Gwinn’s Answer “Ask The Lawyer”

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