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Housing & Mortgages for Gay & Lesbian Couples Guide
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This guide will help to explain the different approaches that same-sex couples can take to getting a mortgage, establishing ownership of a home, and creating legal documents that anticipate any legal or property-ownership issues that might occur if the couple breaks up or one partner dies.


Gay and Lesbian couples are in a unique situation when it comes to mortgages and home purchases. The problem lies less in getting a mortgage or purchasing a home than in what happens to the property if the relationship breaks up or one of the partners dies.

"Most states do not recognize lesbian and gay relationships,” says attorney Joan M. Burda. “The laws in those states were not written with the legal rights of lesbian and gay couples in mind. Many states predicate their property statutes on marriage. In most states, lesbians and gay men have no or limited legal rights. But, a good lawyer can help you protect yourself, your partner, and your property—separate and joint." It’s funny to approach starting a new phase in a relationship and buying property by thinking about what might happen if that relationship ends. But that kind of planning is crucial. “If a couple is buying, they need an agreement in writing,” says Burda. “If you have one partner who puts down more and they break up ten years later, and the house has to be divided, you have a mess. They need to work this out in the beginning.”

Navigating the home buying process and the mortgage maze is intimidating enough. Add to it the societal and legal complications of being a same-sex couple and you are potentially in for a stressful ride. Knowing what to prepare for and thinking ahead can only make that ride a little bit smoother.

Talk to a Lawyer

This guide will give readers a better understanding of the issues involved in purchasing or financing a home. It will also help readers to ask the right questions when speaking to a legal professional. This guide is NOT a substitute for specific, tailored advice from a licensed attorney. Having a real estate lawyer who is knowledgeable about same-sex issues is essential. The laws differ from state to state and things change all the time. Legal advice can be expensive, but as one attorney told us, it’s a lot more expensive to clean up a legal mess after the fact.

“I'm often asked,” says Joan M. Burda, "Can I do this myself? Or, do I REALLY need a lawyer?" My answer: yes, you can prepare all your legal documents yourself. BUT, if you do it wrong, you may not find out until after you're dead or you break up. Then, it's too late. You cannot change anything."

Read the rest of the guide here: Housing & Mortgages for Gay & Lesbian Couples

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