Same-sex married couples in Pennsylvania now have better property options

On May 20, 2014, the state of Pennsylvania joined with New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Arkansas, DC, and 12 other jurisdictions in granting full legal recognition to citizens who enter into same-sex marriages.

While these jurisdictions may have finally made a decision on their position on who is to marry, they have not resolved all the issues related to the right to marry.

The issue of co-ownership

In states that do not allow same-sex marriage, couples who wish to own property together generally use the Co-ownership method: where each partner has the title to half of the property in question. When a partner dies, their portion of the title is automatically transferred to the surviving partner.

When two partners jointly own the title to a property in this way, neither can sell his share on his own. However, there is a serious area risk: If one of the partners owes money to a creditor who wishes to sue for payment, the court may allow his share to be garnished.

The co-ownership method, then, is satisfactory.

When you get married there is an alternative

Married couples choose a different method of joint ownership called holding for the whole. For married couples, this method is often recommended by lawyers as the most sensible option of all. Under this method of joint ownership, when one of the spouses dies, the surviving partner becomes the sole owner. Also, when one of the spouses owes money to creditors, there is no risk of garnishment: the property is not divisible. This method of joint ownership is now open to same-sex couples.

When same-sex couples marry, they must move out immediately to change the title of any property they own, making sure they keep it as full tenants. Changing the title of a property is a simple process. All one needs to do is approach a law firm to have a new deed registered. These deeds don’t even attract registration or transfer taxes.

Not all states allow full tenure – Pennsylvania is one of the few that does.

PA LGBT Legal Issues You Should Know About

The protections available to same-sex married couples in Pennsylvania are often not available to them when they purchase property jointly in other states. If a state does not recognize same-sex marriage, full tenure will not be possible for them, even if the state allows heterosexual married couples to own property using this method.

However, same-sex couples in Pennsylvania can take advantage of federal laws related to joint ownership. The Garn-St. The Germain Law is an example. Under this law, all married people can transfer property to their spouses without the expiration clause being applied. While nothing is specifically said about same-sex marriages, they are considered covered.

It is truly wonderful that Pennsylvania is finally recognizing same-sex marriage. However, couples who want to get married need to understand that the new legal scenarios can have some difficult aspects.

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