Washington is one of nine community property states. With certain limited exceptions, property acquired by a husband and wife during a marriage is presumed to be community property. Exceptions include property acquired by gift, inheritance, and income from separate property.
If you are legally married, you and your spouse may declare, in a written document, that upon your death, all your property is community property (even though the law would designate it as your separate property without this agreement), and that the surviving spouse receives all of the community property. This is a common method of avoiding probate for the estate of the first spouse to die.
Community property agreements are unique to Washington, and will not affect property, even community property, held in other states. Community property agreements appear deceivingly simple; they are not. Community property agreements, especially those that are “three prong” agreements transferring not only property at death, but also present and future acquired property, can have very expensive unintended consequences.
For help with your community property agreement, please call us at 360.630.3635.