Community and Separate Property: Knowing the Basics of the Two if You Refuse to Draft a Will

Many may consider estate planning, which will-drafting falls under, to be a waste of time and effort. After all, if a person has few possessions, what’s the point of listing who among their family and friends will inherit them? This is the wrong mindset to have. Everyone should draft a will, no matter how little the number of possessions they own or their value.

Perhaps a critical factor to keep in mind about this topic is that, without a will, a probate court receives full authority to decide how one’s personal belongs will be distributed. There’s a real possibility that a court will not uphold the wishes of the deceased and will instead distribute said belongings in a manner it sees fit.

In order to properly distribute the personal effects of the deceased, a probate court must first classify the possessions into two categories: community property and separate property. Our estate planning lawyers in McAllen want to help you learn more about these terms below and how a probate court handles property if no will was drafted by the deceased.

Community Property

A probate court identifies community property as property, possessions, wages, and other belongings owned and earned by spouses during their marriage. A probate court will then determine which of the deceased’s family members will receive the majority of the community property.

For example, if a person with a spouse and children passes away with no will, a probate court can distribute the community property to their children instead of the spouse, or vice versa. Examples of community property include:

  • Houses or other real estate purchased during the marriage.
  • Employment income or unemployment compensation.
  • Vehicles purchased during the marriage, regardless of who the primary owner is.

Separate Property

Separate property includes possessions that were owned since before marriage. This property is not legally required to be distributed, however, in some cases, divorced spouses can agree to label specific belongings, such as jewelry, furniture, or vehicles, as separate property.

Draft a Will with Our Estate Planning Lawyers in McAllen

Drafting a will may be the best option for your family in the long run. Contact our estate planning lawyers in McAllen to explore your options.

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