What is community property?

· Community property is property that is jointly owned by a husband and wife or Registered Domestic Partners.

· Each spouse or Registered Domestic Partner has an undivided one-half interest in the couple’s community property.

· Generally, all property earned or acquired during a marriage/domestic partner relationship, except property received as a gift or inheritance is community property.

· Upon death each spouse or Registered Domestic Partner has the right to dispose of his or her portion of the community property.

What is separate property?

· Separate property is property that is only owned by one spouse or Registered Domestic Partner.

· Separate property includes property owned before a couple’s marriage/domestic relationship and property received as a gift or inheritance that is kept in the name of the one spouse or Registered Domestic Partner who acquired the property.

· Upon death, each spouse or Registered Domestic Partner has the right to dispose of all of his or her separate property.

What is a Community Property Agreement?

· A Community Property Agreement is a document that turns all separate property into Community Property either immediately or on death only.

· A Community Property Agreement is typically effective upon the death of the first spouse or Registered Domestic Partner to die.

· A Community Property Agreement can allow a couple to avoid probate upon the death of the first spouse or Registered Domestic Partner to die by transferring all property to the surviving spouse or Registered Domestic Partner.

· Typically a Community Property Agreement is not used when you have a taxable estate.

Should I have a Community Property Agreement?

· Maybe. You should talk to a lawyer to determine if one if appropriate in your situation.

If I have a Community Property Agreement do I need a Last Will and Testament too?

· Yes. You need a Last Will and Testament even if you have a Community Property Agreement.

This information was prepared as a public service by Mullavey, Prout, Grenley & Foe LLP. It contains general information and is not intended to apply to any specific situation. The information is very broadly and simply stated. There are a number of exceptions and specific rules that apply to your particular situation and lead to a different result. If you need legal advice or have questions, you should consult a lawyer.