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The cohabitation agreement: What you need to include

You aren't married, but you live together. You've been together for years, so you've amassed thousands of dollars of assets between the two of you. You didn't want to get married, but you do want to make sure your property is protected in the case of a separation.

Cohabitation rights are slightly different for unmarried couples than they are for married individuals. If you have not kept separate information on your assets to show who owns what, it could become complicated.

What should you do to prevent legal battles over property? You need to prepare a cohabitation property agreement. This agreement has information on who owns which assets. It states how your finances are combined and shared and talks about your separate incomes. The expenses you have are included on this agreement.

Other items that need to be in this agreement include terms for managing your insurance policies, credit cards and bank accounts, terms for what happens to newly acquired assets and information on how your assets will be distributed if you do go through with a separation.

If you plan to purchase a home together, consider listing both of your names on the mortgage if you're paying into it equally. If only one person is going to own the home, only place that person's name on the deed. You can also include information on buyout rights in the case of a separation.

These are a few things to think about as someone who is not in a married relationship. Living together doesn't give you the same protections as marriage, but this document can help. Your attorney can help you draw one up.

Source: FindLaw, "Cohabitation Property Rights for Unmarried Couples," accessed May 25, 2017

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