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Community Property At A Glance

Community Property

Community property is property which is jointly owned in a marriage. In other words, community property is the equal property, as a percentage of that property, of both spouses. Homes are often community property, as are cars and other items which have a title. Community property may also include items found in the home, such as furniture and other items.

In most cases, community property becomes the property of the surviving spouse if one spouse should be deceased. However, a will may list an item which is deemed as community property and that percentage of ownership may be left to an individual other than the spouse in some jurisdictions. There are however, rules and laws which govern community property.

For example, some jurisdictions automatically grant full ownership of community property to the surviving spouse, even when a will says otherwise. Yet, the surviving spouse may have signed their rights away to a percentage of the community property in the will. For instance, if the couple has grown children, the spouses may have decided to leave a portion of the community property to those children. In that case, the children would be able to inherit a portion or percentage of the community property.

There may also be clause in the will which allows the surviving spouse to maintain ownership of that property while they are still alive, even if the deceased spouse granted ownership to another. When the surviving spouse passes away, the beneficiary may then take ownership of that percentage of the community property.

NEXT: What Should You Know About Wills and Probate

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