Washington State along with Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, Louisiana, Texas, California and New Mexico have Community Property laws. I hope to explain what that means in very concise manner. For more detailed consultation, please contact my office and schedule a free 30 minutes consultation.
When you are in Washington and married, I can categorize your property in two ways: community property and separate property. Generally speaking, community property is all the stuff the couple jointly earned during the marriage. Separate property is everything else.
EXAMPLE OF SEPARATE PROPERTY:
– Inheritance/ gift/ property acquired before marriage/ rent and profit from separate property
Please remember: Even if the property is community property since acquired after marriage, one spouse can still gift his/her share.
ALSO please be aware: although you acquired the property before you got married, the property later can become a community asset if it was “commingled and untraceable.” For example, if you opened a brokerage account before you got married, and you have constantly made investment after you got married, the “separate” property now is a community property since it is “untraceable” and “commingled.” Therefore if you want your property to remain separate, make an effort to do so.
Community Property Agreement: It is a contract between spouses or domestic registered partner to avoid probate. It usually the following:
1. All property acquired before marriage becomes community property
2. All future property will be community property
3. Transfer all property to the surviving spouse
This option is available so that the surviving spouse can avoid probate.