Occasionally someone will ask me about cohabitation in Minnesota.  “Cohabitation” is another way of saying “living together.”

If you are thinking of moving in with your boyfriend or girlfriend without getting married, here are some things to consider:

If you are going to contribute towards payment of the mortgage, you should have something in writing stating very clearly that you are doing so.  The document should also state what, if any, ownership interest you will have in the house because of your mortgage payments.  Your name should also go on title to the house by way of a quit claim deed or other deed that transfers an ownership interest to you.

If you do not do this, and if the relationship ends, you will have nothing to show for all of your mortgage payments.  You will not be married, so  there will not be any marital property that you have an interest in.

Minnesota does not have “palimony.”  In fact, it has a law that specifically says it does not have palimony.  This means that you will not be entitled to any payment similar to spousal maintennace when you split up.  It also means that you are not entitled to any of your partner’s property when you split up.

Verbal agreements do not count.  With respect to real estate, verbal agreements are strictly prohibited.  If you want to claim an interest in someone else’s real property, you should be on title and you absolutley must have a fully signed written contract that sufficiently describes your interest, the consideration you paid for your interest, and the way the value of your interest should be determined. 

With respect to personal property, verbal agreements are extremely difficult to enforce.  I usually tell people that verbal agreements are not worth any more than the paper they are not printed on.

If you are living with your partner and he or she dies, if you are not on title to the house your partner’s heirs could force you to move immediately.  Of course, your partner could name you as a beneficiary in his or her will and award the house to you, but if he or she does not, you will have a problem.

If you are not married, and not on the mortgage and do not appear as an owner of record on the house, but you make contributions to the monthly mortgage payment (PITI) , you cannot deduct the property taxes and interest on your income tax returns.

I recommend that people who have a significant romantic relationship, and are thinking about moving in together, should have a written partnershiup agreement that clearly states who will pay for what.  If you believe that you both “own” your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s house, then you should put it in writing.