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Same-sex marriages and the need for title changes

This post makes me think of clients that would appreciate the updated  phone call. This could easily slip through the cracks. I hope agents think to bring this up. If it is not covered in the news and papers, this tip should be. Get legal advise on property title!

Same-sex marriages and the need for title changes 


Same-sex marriage photographs are now appearing in newspapers since the Maryland law changed to permit these marriages beginning on January 1, 2013.  When there are changes in one sector of the law, all need to consider the impact of other laws on the newly married couples.  This is a new territory for those of us that provide professional real estate advice.

According to The Washington Post, same-sex marriage is now permitted in the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and New York as well as in Maryland.  Kerrie at ActiveRain reports that Washington has also approved same-sex marriage.  Real estate professionals in these areas need to be positioned to advise same-sex couples on how to best take title when they purchase real estate.

In the past, it was typical for a same-sex couple to take ownership of residential real estate as joint tenants. Joint tenancy provides assurance that, upon death, their partner becomes the sole owner.  One of the disadvantages of joint tenancy is that if there is a legal claim against one of the owners, a judgment could attach to the interest in the real estate.

Now that same-sex marriage is legal in Maryland, some lawyers and title companies are advising these couples to take title as tenants by the entirety.  Tenancy by the entirety provides full ownership to the surviving owner and the extra protection of not having the risk of a legal claim against one party attach  the property owned by the entirety.

With these circumstances in mind, we recommend that same-sex couples seek legal advice on the form of real estate title that will best meet their personal objectives.  Same-sex couples that currently own a home a joint tenants may wish to to retitle their property.

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Photograph by Roy Kelley

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We represent home buyers and sellers as their exclusive agents in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC. 

Roy Kelley
Roy Kelley & Associates
Associate Broker, RE/MAX Realty Group 

Client Assistance:  301-670-8996   

Recipient of the RE/MAX International Lifetime Achievement Award - 2008


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Comment balloon 4 commentsCheryl Ritchie • January 07 2013 09:34PM


Very interesting point to consider. We here in CA happen to be a community property state, which would also allow a stepped up basis on capital gains, besides rights of survivorship.
Posted by Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI, REALTOR and Broker (Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates) over 7 years ago

Thanks, Cheryl, for the re-blog.  Enjoy this beautiful sunny day.

Best wishes for continued success in 2013!

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) over 7 years ago

Hmmmmmmm.... "This could easily slip through the cracks" Fruedian Slip?  Have a great day!

Posted by Glenn Freezman (Family Abstract, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Cheryl, Roy always has great information for consumers in Maryland.

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®, Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate (Vision Quest Realty) over 7 years ago