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There’s a New Spouse in the House

July 8, 2018

By James Harotunian

Question: I have owned my house for many years, alone, as a single man. Last year, I found love, late in life. Things moved fast. We got engaged and moved into her house together. I put my home on the market, accepted an offer, and we were married last week. My closing is next week. They are requiring my new wife to join me in signing the deed.

She isn’t an owner, so why does she have to sign?

Answer: It may seem strange. Your new wife is not listed anywhere on your deed. She is not an owner of your home. However, by saying I do, you granted her rights of “homestead.” Essentially, as your new spouse, she can assert a marital right to reside in your home, before or after the closing.

The person buying your home is being reasonable and diligent in requiring your wife to waive her homestead rights. She will sign your deed as a “non-owner spouse, releasing rights to homestead.”

Often, this signature requirement doesn’t cause problems. However, when a married couple is separated or estranged, problems arise. Readers in such a relationship should consider tackling the spousal homestead release signature early. Animosity only tends to grow over time.

Attorney James Haroutunian practices real-estate law, estate planning and probate at 630 Boston Road, Billerica. He gladly invites questions at james@hlawoffice.com or by phone at 978-671-0711. His website blog is found at www.hlawoffice.com . This column is published for informational purposes only and not to be relied on as legal advice, in any manner.

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