‘What could go wrong? Yikes, quite a bit’: Zooey Deschanel’s latest home purchase could be a risky gamble — here’s why

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Zooey Deschanel and her HGTV star boyfriend, Jonathan Scott, revealed this week that they bought the house of their dreams in Los Angeles.

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For unmarried couples, buying a home together can become a nightmare if they do not take appropriate steps to protect themselves financially and legally.

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In an excerpt from a magazine The “Property Brothers” star detailed the journey that Jonathan Scott shared with his twin brother, Drew, as he and Deschanel attempted to buy a home together. Scott described his girlfriend as a real estate lover, describing her as “one of those ‘Friday Night Zillow’ types.”

“We both cherish old homes—the intricate details, the wood floors, the old hardware,” writes Scott. “We love a home that feels special and loved with its own unique story.”

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,Zooey Deschanel bought a Georgian-style home in Los Angeles with her boyfriend, HGTV star Jonathan Scott.,

An initial search for a potential home to share revealed only two properties that met the couple’s criteria – and despite inevitably starting the search on some hunt, they ended up buying one. The property in question, a Georgian-style home designed in 1938, was in need of significant renovation, which the couple plan to detail in upcoming issues of the magazine.

In addition to tackling structural issues, including bringing the home up to California’s earthquake code, the pair also sought to make it an eco-friendly residence. Scott said the home does not rely on fossil fuels for heating or cooling and uses state-of-the-art insulation.

While Deschanel and Scott are still in the honeymoon phase, dreaming of their future in the home, financial experts warn that unmarried couples should approach joint homeownership with caution.

“What can go wrong? Oh, quite a bit,” said Thomas F. Scanlon, a certified financial planner and accountant based in Manchester, Conn.

(A representative for Deschanel declined to comment, while representatives for Scott did not return a request for comment.)

the law is not on your side

Property laws in most parts of the country have been designed keeping married couples in mind, financial and legal experts have warned. For unmarried partners who choose to purchase joint assets, that can leave them without a significant safety net.

“Most states have some form of ‘homestead law’ that automatically protects spouses from unwanted consequences from the death of a spouse,” said Austin Fry, an attorney who practices estate law and Aventura, said the president and founder of Fry Financial Center in Fla. “Those protections are usually not extended to unmarried couples.”

These laws, Fry said, would allow a widow or widower to continue to live in the property for the rest of her life, even if the title is in the name of her late spouse, as the title would automatically pass to the surviving spouse. goes.

,‘Should the relationship be dissolved, neither party has any financial or legal protection.’,


–Sally Mullins Thompson, a financial planner and tax strategist based in Washington, DC

Similarly, if a couple breaks up, the laws surrounding divorce make it easier for assets to be dissolved. In most states, property acquired during the marriage is divided equally—whereas “community property” states that property acquired during the marriage is usually divided in half if they are shared property.

For unmarried couples, “should the relationship dissolve, neither party has any financial or legal security with respect to money and any property that is kept in the home upon each purchase and during the course of the relationship,” says Sally Mullins Thompson , a financial planner and Washington-based tax strategist. , DC

How unmarried couples can protect themselves and their investments

Experts argued that it is important to plan ahead to ensure that each participant – and their successor – is safe in these arrangements.

“Before you go shopping, map out what you want to do if unexpected events happen,” suggests Linda Farinola, president of New Jersey-based Princeton Financial Group.

For starters, experts recommend that unmarried couples prepare a document similar to a pre-marriage agreement, sometimes known as a cohabitation or co-ownership agreement. Such a document would not only explain how assets would be divided in the event of a break-up, but it could also cover more mundane topics such as the expectations surrounding who would pay for maintenance. Such an agreement expects an unmarried couple to have a major legal battle down the road.

,How the household is titled, what happens to the household if one partner dies, can be complicated.,

End-of-life planning is another consideration here. Depending on the form of the deed that the property has, it may not pass directly to the surviving partner if one dies. In such a situation, other heirs can have right over that part of the house. Unmarried couples can avoid such awkwardness by deciding that the surviving partner will receive the share upon their death rather than the other person’s.

The form in which the title occurs and how it is kept can also be particularly important for unmarried couples. A better option, Farinola said, may be to hold the property in common as joint tenants, as each person will have a 50% share. But other options are possible, she said, such as owning a home through an LLC that has an operating agreement or through a trust.

“In this case the parties can initially arrange how things should be divided in the different scenarios,” Farinola said. “The downside is that it makes things more complicated.”

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