This is not a substitute for legal advice.  An attorney must be consulted.

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What is community property?

In general, community property means that each spouse acquires a one-half interest in property acquired during the marriage, unless the couple changes this by prior agreement. Nine states have some form of community property laws - Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. Separate property includes property brought to the marriage and property acquired during the marriage by gift, bequest or descent. At the death of a spouse, one-half of the community property may be disposed of by the Will of the deceased spouse. The earnings by either spouse during the marriage are generally considered community property; however, the income from property and investments is not treated uniformly by all the states. The states also vary their treatment of assets initially acquired as separate property and in cases in which community funds are used to make some payments on the property. When a couple moves from a common law state to a community property state, or vice versa, it is important that they have their estate plan reviewed. It may be important for them to preserve the character of certain assets as community, separate, or common law. They may want to limit the application of the new state's laws to their property. This has been a very general overview of community property, and the reader should consult an advisor familiar with his or her state law since these vary greatly from state to state.

Copyright © 1994 - 2015 by LAWCHEK, LTD.

This is not a substitute for legal advice. An attorney must be consulted.