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It appears that it is becoming much more common to not wait to get married to buy a home.

It is estimated that, in 1985, around three out of every four first-time homebuyers were married. In contrast, these days, less than three out of every five new homeowners are.

This trend is in part being driven by an increase in the number of unmarried couples deciding to get a home together. Last year saw a record high for percentage of first-time homebuyers that were unmarried couples. That year, such couples made up an estimated 16 percent of new homeowners.

When an unmarried couple decides to get a house together, it can be very important for them to think about the future. This includes what will happen with the home if one of them passes away. What would happen depends in part on how the couple opts to title the property when they purchase it.

The two main titling options for unmarried partners are joint tenancy with rights of survivorship and tenancy in common. In a joint tenancy, if one of the partners dies, the other generally automatically gets full ownership of the property. In a tenancy in common, on the other hand, the deceased partner’s ownership interest instead generally goes into his or her estate. If the deceased partner had a will, the will can control what will happen with this interest. If the deceased partner didn’t have a will or other estate planning devices, what would happen with this ownership interest would likely be controlled by state intestacy laws.

So, what title option an unmarried couple goes with when buying a home can have very big impacts should unexpected tragedy strike.

Thinking carefully about what would happen should tragedy occur can be very important for unmarried couples. One reason is that such couples typically don’t have the same options and automatic protections available that married couples do. So, careful estate planning can be a very important aspect of protecting their goals and wishes. Skilled estate planning attorneys can help unmarried couples plan for the future when it comes to real estate and other assets.