A move to the Golden State has the potential to change the character of your property. Upon arrival in California, meeting with an experienced California estate planning attorney is a must!
Generally, there are two kinds of property systems: community property and separate property. California is one of nine community property regimes in the United States.* Presumptively, community property is all property acquired by a couple during marriage. The community property system gives each spouse a fifty percent (50%) interest in the property, among other characteristics. In California, separate property is all property owned by a person before marriage and all property acquired by gift, bequest, or devise during marriage.
California’s community property system is unique because it also recognizes “quasi-community property.” Quasi-community property includes all property, wherever situated, that would have been treated as community property had the acquiring spouse been domiciled in California at the time of acquisition. For example, if husband bought a car with funds earned during marriage, while living in Minnesota, a separate property state, the property would be the husband’s separate property. However, if husband and wife moved to California and then filed for divorce, the car would be considered quasi-community property. The reason being is that if the husband was domiciled in California at the time he had purchased the car, it would have been characterized as community property. Pursuant to California law, all property acquired during marriage, including a spouse’s earnings, is community property. Therefore, in accordance with the quasi-community property statute, each spouse would have a fifty percent (50%) interest in the car.
The example above is just one of many that may give rise to quasi-community property. Nonetheless, it illustrates the potential effect a move to California can have upon one’s property. Moreover, each state has the authority to make its own property laws. Therefore, it is imperative that when you move to a new state, especially from a separate property state to a community property state, you visit an experienced estate planning attorney.
For more information about quasi-community property or estate planning in general, please contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri for further information. The attorneys at Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri have decades of experience handling complex estate planning matters, including quasi-community property issues, and we are happy to offer you a free consultation. Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results. While this post may detail general legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.