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I am married. I buy a property in WA. I hold the title in my name as my sole property. What happens if there is a dissolution?

Redmond, WA |

This is in WA State. I am married. I buy a property. I hold the title in my name as my sole property. If there is a dissolution of marriage, does my spouse still hold an interest in the property even though the title clearly states its my sole property? Do I have to get my spouse to sign a quitclaim deed, if I want full share of property upon dissolution?

Adding some additional information. I have not bought the property. I will be buying it. What steps do I need to take to ensure that I don't lose ownership in case of a dissolution? My spouse will not be on the mortgage. Follow up to this question is what steps need to be taken to ensure that the spouse is the beneficiary, and property passes to him/her without any probation?

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

Did you buy the property prior to marriage? Is your spouse on the mortgage?
This and a number of other important facts would need to be assessed by an
attorney. In a dissolution the court has before it all property for
consideration in its division, separate as well as community property. Your
task will be to marshal the facts to show, pursuant to case law and the
various statutes, that your property is your separate property and should
not be divided.

Brook A. Goddard

Goddard Wetherall Wonder, PSC

155 - 108th Avenue N.E., #700
Bellevue, WA 98004
(425) 453-9200 (office)
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Posted

It might be your separate property but if you paid for it with community funds, it could be considered community. Titles on property are not proof that the property is your separate property. If you want to make it your separate property, you and your spouse should do a Community and Separate Property Agreement, which states what is yours, what is hers/his, and what is community (both of yours), and put in language that it is your intent that this property pass to your spouse upon your death (what about divorce?).

My response does not constitute legal advice but is provided for the purposes of advertising and education. Please contact a local attorney if you wish to obtain confidential legal counsel.

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4 comments

Asker

Posted

Is there a form for such an agreement? where can I get it?

Meredith McKell Graff

Meredith McKell Graff

Posted

No, you should consult with an estate planning attorney to have one created. Best wishes!

John S. Palmer

John S. Palmer

Posted

The agreement can provide that you keep the property in the event of a divorce. Generally speaking, to be enforceable you and your spouse will need separate attorneys. That is because to be enforceable, you will need to demonstrate your spouse understood it, and the easiest way to do that is for each spouse's attorney to verify in writing that the attorney explained the agreement, and its consequences prior to signing. Courts have refused to uphold agreements like this when a spouse who had no attorney advising them before signing later claimed they did not understand all the rights they were giving up by signing.

John S. Palmer

John S. Palmer

Posted

To clarify, I am referring to a post-nuptial agreement, which is similar to a pre-nuptial agreement, and not a simple community/separate property agreement. In any event, as mentioned in my previous comment, you almost certainly need a lawyer's help with this.

Posted

An asset bought during the marriage is presumed to be community property, regardless of how title is held.

However, it's a rebuttable presumption. If you can document that the source of funds was your separate account from before marriage, and that you didn't mix the funds in that account with earnings during the marriage, the property would likely be viewed by a judge as your separate property. That interpretation would be strengthened by your spouse having signed a quitclaim deed to you. Even then, the court has authority to divide separate property in a dissolution action, but it rarely does so (making an unequal division of community property instead.)

If this answer is helpful or the best answer, please say so. This is for general information purposes only, and not as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Legal disclaimer: In accordance with the Avvo community guidelines, this communication does not constitute "legal advice", nor does it form an attorney-client relationship. No information disclosed in these questions and opinions will prohibit this lawyer from representing a different client in the matter.

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