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Community Property States in Wills and Marriage

Community property states follow the rule that all assets acquired during the marriage are considered "community property". A spouse may not alter, transfer, or eliminate any whole-piece of the community property without the other’s consent.

Jasper L. Edwards 


In today’s world, property issues have become a common occurrence among divorced couples. For instance, a co-owned business, or a house bought by both parties can be the source of major conflict. The rules dictating how community properties should be managed tend to vary depending upon which state you live in. There are basically two kinds of states, Common Law Property States and Community Property States.

Community Property States Wills and Marriage

What is a Community Property State?

Community property is when a house is owned by the individual and is part of a community or neighborhood, instead of being considered as private property owned by someone who lives there. Most people refer to it as owning a "stones-and-mortar" home. That is because homes that are in this category are not always fully owned by the person who owns it. They are often times owned by the developer, and then by the community that the house belongs to. The term community property is also used, sometimes interchangeably with community ownership, when speaking of developments that are located along roads or in designated areas.

In the United States, there are nine states that have what is commonly referred to as community property law. So what states are Community Property States? The Community Property States List includes Arizona, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Pennsylvania. Additionally, three other states have embraced more flexible common law systems in which a homeowner may keep his/her home regardless of what is agreed upon between him and the developer. Those are Maine, Rhode Island, and Utah.

Residents of these nine states must abide by the laws of their respective community property states when they are performing any kind of transaction with anyone who is a party to the transaction. This includes any kinds of real estate transaction that is conducted on any kind of real estate. These laws generally allow for some flexibility when it comes to how the property is divided. For example, it is possible for the residents of one community to live in the home as its owner, and for the same person to live in the property as a lessee, or as a tenant.

However, these nine states do not allow for the transfer of a common law marriage from one member of the couple to another. The states also do not allow for the same type of exchange of property that can take place between two unrelated adults who are legally married. It is important to note that there are still some situations where one spouse can be the husband of the other.

In order for a couple to be considered one of the "common law" residents of a community property state, they must be related by blood, adoption, marriage, or being born within the nine months before the marriage. Also, if one spouse was not legally married, then that person must have proved that he or she was not married in the Common Law. In order for a couple to be considered "one of the common law property owners", they must have both been legally wed or not to have a divorce decree pending. If either spouse was divorced, then they cannot be considered a common law property owner. Lastly, a couple does not have to be related by blood or adoption to each other to be able to live in the same house as one another as long as they are not living in a state that does not recognize a common law marriage.

The above information on what is a community property state may seem rather overwhelming. However, if you are going to begin a divorce or just simply wish to live in peace and harmony with your significant other, then you should investigate all of the options available to you. Be sure to discuss everything thoroughly with your lawyer before moving forward. Additionally, be sure to check with your state's attorney general and look up their official website to make sure that there are no glaring lacunas that may affect your rights. Community property states are certainly worth looking into if you are in one!

How Do Estate Taxes and Probate Laws Impact Community Property States? 

Community property is a legal term that describes the way that property is divided up when a homeowner and a neighbor or other persons to enter into an agreement to divide property ownership for a particular use. Each of these states has their own unique terminology and rules that apply to community property. This means that it's important to understand the laws and regulations for each of the states in order to be familiar with how to divide property. This will ensure that the transaction is handled properly so as not to waste time or money by going to court.

The states that have the most complex laws regarding community property ownership are the ones that use what is known as "common law" rules. These states begin with the words "common law" and then refer back to "rule of thumb" or "customary law." Generally, in this case, both spouses own a portion of the property. There is no divorce required, and no children are involved. The "common law states" include Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Washington. Also three other states have chosen to adopt alternative community property systems under their common law rules.

The states that use "common law" rules will divide any property acquired through marriage equally. No one is allowed to take more than half of the income earned or any share of the assets without the permission of the other person. There is no cap on how much property can be divided in this case. Also, couples who live together can equally receive gifts from each other without having to go through a divorce. It only matters if the gifts are joint or not, because the gifts must come from sources that are jointly owned.

Most of the community property states also have what is called "common law" divorce clauses. These allow the couple to get divorced even if there are no children or no income. This is a loophole that married couples exploit and which affects everybody involved. Usually the divorce happens after a heated argument or a divorce suit where neither party is willing to compromise, but the courts don't care because they consider it to be a personal matter.

As regards communal property, in most community property states, all marital assets are split equally between the husband and wife. The exception is the property used for the raising of children. In most cases, this means that the wife is allowed to keep the baby's welfare as her priority. In some states, she is also allowed to keep the earning capacity of the child as well. Of course, in most cases, the earning capacity must be used to take care of the child directly or to pay for day-to-day living expenses.

The final difference between communal property distribution and marital property distribution is that in most community property states, the surviving spouse is usually entitled to receive a substantial amount of alimony as part of the distribution. While the distribution is usually controlled by the courts to ensure that each person gets their fair share of assets, the courts may also have discretion to order additional payments to be made to the surviving spouse in certain circumstances. In addition, although it is generally Considered unenforceable, the laws regarding property distribution between the Surviving spouse and the non-Surviving Spouse might also be changed in certain circumstances to ensure that each person gets an equal opportunity to make investments and receive dividends.

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