What is Community Property?

Community property is a form of property ownership in certain states that provides that a husband and wife each own a one-half interest in the other’s assets and earnings during the course of their marriage.

Currently, community property states are: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Married couples in Alaska can also adopt community property rules, at least for the purposes of that state’s law, by signing an agreement to that effect.

In a community property state, all property accumulated during the marriage belongs equally (50% each) to both the husband and the wife. The only exceptions are property that is received as a gift or inherited by one spouse or the other and separate property owned exclusively by either spouse prior to the marriage and never commingled with community property.

For more information, refer to: http://wills.about.com/od/howtoavoidprobate/a/communityprop.htm.

We would like your feedback on this Personal Finance Frequently Asked Question.