When it comes to property, cohabiting unmarried couples do not have any rights or responsibilities if the relationship ends, as of 2016. However, if the couple purchases property together, they have the option to purchase as joint tenants or tenants-in-common, according to FindLaw.
Buying property as joint tenants means the ownership of the property and interests are equally shared between the couple. If one person dies, the other person automatically takes over the share of the deceased individual, states FindLaw. This process is called the right of survivorship.
When a couple buys a piece of property as tenants-in-common, each individual has a specific share of the property. The couple decides who owns what percentage, explains FindLaw. Ownership percentages usually reflect the amount of money each person invested in the property. However, if one of the owners dies, the other owner does not automatically have rights to that person's share. Instead, the deceased person's share goes to his estate and is distributed according to his will or applicable state laws.
In the case of a relationship ending, joint tenants split the assets equally. If the property is in one person's name, then that person becomes the sole owner upon the ending of a relationship, states FindLaw. However, if the second party can prove a common intention regarding the property, that person may have some rights to partial ownership.