Community Property and Wills

Community property is a form of property ownership between a married couple. Laws differ in various states, but they are all somehow similar with the law concerning community property. The law states that the ownership of the couple’s property acquired through marriage is split between the two spouses so that both of them have a half ownership of the whole property, not full ownership of only half. However, properties acquired by a spouse and brought into the marriage remain separate, as are those acquired by gift or inheritance.

Whether a couple’s income is included into this kind of property differs in some states, however. In most states, for example, California, they are considered separate, but in some states such as Texas they are included in the community property. It is important to know and learn more about the laws of your state so that you can avoid confusion or any misunderstanding in your will.

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Since the couple’s property is separate, then each spouse has complete freedom to include their half of the property when they write their will. Contrary to popular belief, it does not automatically become the surviving spouse’s property, unless it is stated in the will. This kind of property should be taken into consideration by married couples who are under community property jurisdiction, who are living in a common law state but acquired property while living previously in a community property state, or vice versa.

The issue of community property should not be taken lightly, because as mentioned, laws vary from state to state, and this may be the cause of complications and misunderstandings when writing a will and discussing family inheritance. It’s suggested to consult a lawyer to learn more and understand fully the issue of community property and the spouse’s rights to his property.

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