Community property and its impact on inheritances

| Oct 8, 2020 | Inheritances |

Community property is a system of property ownership that is recognized in Texas. It purports that when married people acquire wealth or property, each member of the marriage owns half of the acquisition. Community property and the disposition of property is often an important topic during divorces and separations.

However, community property is also an important topic when it comes to estate planning. If an individual dies while married, they can only bequeath through their estate plan the property that they, and they alone, own. They cannot bequeath property that is owned by their spouse.

To this end, community property is a legal topic that that Dallas residents should understand as they prepare their estate plans. The help of an estate planning attorney can be useful as they make important decisions about the disposition of their wealth.

What is and is not community property

As stated, community property is property that is acquired during a marriage. The incomes that married people earn, the cars that they buy, and the other property and monetary acquisitions that the take in are shared equally between them. However, some property acquisitions do not become community property, even if the acquirer is married when they receive it.

For example, a person may receive a gift during their marriage and consider it their separate property as long as it was not also gifted to their spouse. Additionally, spouses can agree that certain items of property will only be the property of one of them. This is not a full discussion of separate and community property distinctions, and readers are reminded that this post does not provide legal advice.

What can be given as an inheritance

Since a person can own property with their spouse, they must be sure that their estate plan clearly identifies what share of the property they have the right to bequeath to beneficiaries. A person cannot give away their spouse’s share of community property. An individual can bequeath their separate property and their shares of community property, but not that which they do not actually own.