Should I Add My New Spouse to the Deed of My Premarital Home?

Getting married means sharing every aspect of your life with someone else. If you weren’t already cohabitating, your spouse is probably going to move in shortly after your wedding night, if not the very next day.

Owning your own home outright is a sign of good financial planning, responsibility and personal success. Being able to share that with your new spouse can be particularly gratifying.

However, while you may want to open your home to share it with your new spouse, that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to add them to the deed for the property. Doing so can put you in and an unpleasant situation in the event that you get divorced.

Adding your spouse to the deed means they can ask for a share of the home

Although you may have owned the house outright prior to the marriage, once you add your spouse to the deed, they have a shared ownership interest in it. Regardless of which one of you files for divorce, once your spouse is on the deed, they can realistically ask the courts to allocate a portion of the home’s value to them.

Fighting such claims would be difficult, as adding someone to the deed makes it clear that you intend for them to share in the ownership of the home, and equitable distribution laws require that your spouse receive a fair share of your marital assets. While you may want your spouse to live with you and possibly to retain the home in the event that you die, that doesn’t mean that you have to add them to the deed at this time.

You can protect your spouse’s tenancy through estate planning

So long as you remain married and you are alive, your spouse can rest securely in the knowledge that they have a place to live. However, if something happens to you, especially if you have children from a previous marriage, they could find themselves in a difficult position regarding the home in which you currently live.

Adjusting your last will to provide your spouse with tenancy rights after your death can be a great way to give them the peace of mind that comes from knowing they will have a place to stay no matter what happens. Placing the property in a trust may be another way to ensure the ongoing living arrangements for a spouse, depending on your family’s unique circumstances. With a little planning, you can protect your spouse’s right to a home without giving them a strong claim to it in a divorce.