Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in North Carolina

My boyfriend owns a house in NC. If we get married and my name is never put on the deed, do I have any legal rights to the house if he dies or does it go to whoever is listed in his will?

Asked on 8/27/12, 11:25 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

If your name is never added to the deed, then the house will go to whoever is listed in the will. However, the will has to make adequate provision for you. If it does not, then you can file for an elective share of your boyfriend's assets, so the spouse cannot be totally disinherited. As part of the elective share, you might be able to elect to stay in the home for life - you will be responsible for the maintenance and so forth, but it might be worth it.

However, there is also divorce law to consider. Under the divorce law, the property right now is separate property. If you married and your name was never added and then you divorced, you would not be entitled to any of the property since your boyfriend had it before marriage and did not make it marital. I don't know how he feels about this but he may not want to add your name to the deed after marriage.

You and he need to have a frank discussion about marriage and perhaps pay attorneys to craft a pre-nuptial agreement. You and your boyfriend may also want to have your wills/estate plans created now and re-visited if you marry as you may need new wills/trusts.

I don't know your age or financial situation, but its always a good idea to revisit an estate plan whenever one has a life changing experience such as marriage, death, divorce, birth, adoption, relocation or change in assets.

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Answered on 8/27/12, 12:51 pm

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