: My fiancé and I are buying a house — he demands that both his 19-year-old daughter and our baby inherit our home

United States

Dear Quentin,

I am 30 years old, and my fiancé and I have a baby. We are looking to purchase a house, and go half-and-half with everything.

My issue is he has a 19-year-old daughter who just came back into his life after being MIA for almost six years. She is now living with us, and will live in our house that we plan to buy.

I would like my daughter to have full possession of the house if something were to happen to us. He demands that both his daughters get 50-50.

I am not happy with that. I am coming up with most of the closing costs.

Is there anything I could do? I really want to build a future with him, but I’m nervous my daughter will get left out — especially when I am coming up with most of the money. 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 


You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com, and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

Dear Confused,

I don’t think your fiancé can have it both ways: expect you to contribute most of the down payment, and also demand that his teenager receive half of the property.

Think carefully before making the biggest purchase of your life, if you are not happy with the terms. It may be that — with an attorney — you agree to a compromise whereby your baby receives a larger share (75%) than your husband’s daughter.

Before you proceed, you will need to decide what kind of ownership you want. Case in point: Joint tenancy with rights of survivorship means you both own equal shares of the house and, if one of you dies, that share is passed on to the surviving spouse. You avoid probate and cannot pass the house on to third-party heirs, but it does have tax implications. Tenancy by entirety is similar, but only open to married couples.

How much of your financial independence are you willing to give up? Ultimately, this raises questions about your own estate plan, and whether it makes sense to own a property with your fiancé or buy a property before you are married with your name only on the deed. You have the financial leverage and a baby daughter you want to ensure is taken care of — two good reasons to proceed with caution. 

Whatever you decide, make sure you sign a contract outlining every possible outcome. There are too many cautionary tales where one member of a couple spends more on renovations, or one unmarried partner insists on putting their name alone on the deed while both names are on the mortgage itself. This is a healthy conversation to have now before you sign for a house or sign a marriage contract.

Demands by either party don’t bode well for future negotiations.

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