After falling in love and making a lifetime commitment, Adola DeWolf and Laura Watts decided to share a home and a mortgage together. Watts sold her house and moved into DeWolf’s home outside of Rochester, New York. To make sure both partners were protected in case of death, and to share the responsibility for the mortgage, they contacted DeWolf’s mortgage company, Countrywide, to add Watts to the mortgage. After the couple followed the instructions to change the deed, Countrywide accused the couple of breaching their agreement with the lender by changing the deed and threatened to foreclose on the house if the almost $80,000 balance on the mortgage was not paid in 30 days. The company said it did not recognize domestic partners as family.
Lambda Legal has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the couple. “Everyone from kids to creditors knows what it means when two people say they are married,” says David S. Buckel, Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal and attorney on the case. “If these two women had been able to marry in New York, this never would have happened.”
Since same-sex relationships are not respected by the federal government or in many states and local jurisdictions, being strategic about the life planning decisions you make is particularly important to protect yourself and your loved ones. Your life planning goals may vary depending on whether you’re single or you have a partner or spouse, children or others who depend on you for support. Read more about the life planning topics and strategies you should discuss with your attorney, financial planner or accountant.