Asked in Real Estate Law for Utah

Q: If I were to buy a house with a married man that I’m not married to, would the wife have any right to the house?

If something were to happen to him, could she possibly get half or anything? They haven’t been together for many years. Him and I have two kids together

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1 Lawyer Answer
Kenneth Prigmore
Kenneth Prigmore
  • Spanish Fork, UT
  • Licensed in Utah

A: The answer depends on what you have listed on the deed. If the deed says two people own the house "as Joint Tenants" this means that when one dies, the other will own the full house. If the deed only lists both of your names, then when one dies, their half of the house will be a part of the decedent's estate.

If Bob and Mary (married or not married, it doesn't change this law) buy a house together, and the deed says the new owners are "Bob Johnson and Mary Johnson" then when Bob dies first, Mary only owns one half of the house. The other half is in Bob's Estate. If Bob has a Will, he may have stated who gets his half of the house when he dies. If Bob does not have a Will, then state law will decide who gets his share. Normally it all goes to his current spouse at death. Even if Bob signs a will giving everything to someone else, his current wife at death gets to take an "elective share". This is not a set amount or percentage, it gets figured based on a few factors and then the surviving wife takes that share no matter what.

If Bob does not want his wife to inherit anything, he needs to get divorced. If he wants you to inherit the house, he needs to either add you to his will or put your name on a new deed as a joint tenant.

There are many other issues that I discuss with clients based on their situation. I highly recommend you sit down with an attorney for a few minutes to discuss your situation.

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