Unwed homebuyers tie financial knot

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Jude Galligan and Amber Gugino bought a condo together a year and a half ago, putting them right into the mainstream of American real estate, where signing a real estate contract these days often precedes saying "I do." What the Austin, Texas, couple did before they got to the closing, however, is unusual -- even though legal experts say it shouldn't be. They put their financial intentions in writing to make sure they were on the same page if life's "what ifs" -- breakup, death, job loss -- were to unfold. "We're planning to get married," said Galligan. "The biggest piece of insurance for us was the understanding of what would happen (to the property) if the relationship terminated." Such agreements should be the norm among cohabiting couples, says Frederick Hertz, an Oakland, Calif., real estate lawyer who specializes in advising unwed couples. But he says they're a rarity. "I'd be surprised if more than 10 or 20 percent of unm...