The Big Move: I’m a recent widow. I’m building a house on my son’s and daughter-in-law’s land. Do I have legal ownership? What if they decide to sell, divorce, or die before me?

by | Jul 1, 2022 | Stock Market

Dear MarketWatch, My son and daughter-in-law just moved into their new home, which is on a one-acre lot. They want me to move nearby, as I lost my spouse recently. My dilemma is this: Construction has already begun on a small one-bedroom house for me, for which I am paying cash. What if they decide to sell, or have a divorce, or worse? Do I have any legal ownership? Sincerely, Thinking Ahead

‘The Big Move’ is a MarketWatch column looking at the ins and outs of real estate, from navigating the search for a new home to applying for a mortgage. Do you have a question about buying or selling a home? Do you want to know where your next move should be? Email Aarthi Swaminathan at TheBigMove@marketwatch.com.Dear Thinking Ahead, Sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine losing someone so near and so important to you. Major props for you for planning ahead for worst-case scenarios.  There are two things you may want to consider doing as soon as possible: Formalize the living arrangements on paper with a lease, and to put your assets, including the home, in a trust. Writing up a lease is an essential move at this point. Asking your son and daughter-in-law to sign the lease may be an awkward conversation to have this late in the process, but it’s something you need to do. Put this arrangement in writing in a lease agreement, in case things go sideways. To be clear, this is not a sub-lease. You are not subleasing the home from them. “A sublease is when one rents out something that is already being rented,” …

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