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If I am married in community of property, what can I leave in my will?

A client asked: What are the implications when folks get married in community of property after a property was purchased in any one’s name, draw up a will and one passes away?

If a couple get married in community of property, they share equally in the assets and liabilities of their joint estate (whether acquired or incurred before or during the marriage).

So, if the husband owned a property before the marriage, on death or divorce, the wife becomes entitled to half the net value of the joint estate (i.e. half of all their combined assets less all its joint liabilities).

What that means is that a spouse can only leave his or her half share of the joint estate, in a will. If a will says “I leave my estate to my mother”, “my estate” means his or her net half of the joint estate.

 


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