When a married person dies in a community property state, he has the right to transfer all of his separate property via a will and also his half of the community property. Washington law also provides for situations in which a deceased person does not leave a surviving spouse. If you die without a will, Washington courts first determine which of your assets are community property since your spouse automatically inherits all community property upon your death. If you die without a will, you lose the opportunity to tell your loved ones how to distribute your assets, so your estate will be distributed according to Washington law instead. The decedent’s state of domicile at the time of death is what determines if property is in state or out of state property. This includes the ability to enter into an agreement that upon the death of the first spouse to die all of the property owned by them will be treated as Community Property, and will automatically pass to the surviving spouse. Surviving spouse rights in Washington center around community property, since Washington is a community property state. Your children may be entitled to a portion of your estate even when you leave a surviving spouse. The law relating to inheritance of a community property on the death of a spouse varies from state to state. Ryan Velo-Simpson: Washington State Intestacy Laws: What Happens When You Die Without a Will in Washington State? In Washington, if you are married and you die without a will, what your spouse gets depends in part on how the two of you owned your property -- as separate property or community property. Descent and distribution of community property: RCW. These laws operate like a default will for those who do not leave a will of their own. Washington law allows a married couple to enter into an agreement defining the character of the property owned by them. Consequently, there is not a consistent, uniform set of community-property laws. (6) Neither person shall acquire, purchase, sell, convey, or encumber the assets, including real estate, or the good will of a business where both spouses or both domestic partners participate in its management without the consent of the other: PROVIDED, That where only one spouse or one domestic partner participates in such management the participating spouse or participating domestic partner may, in the ordinary course of such business, acquire, purchase, sell, convey or encumber the assets, including real estate, or the good will of the business without the consent of the nonparticipating spouse or nonparticipating domestic partner. However, probate would be necessary unless the estate was valued under $60,000 and did not contain real property. Unless the couple has agreed otherwise in writing, this will include money earned during the marriage or domestic partnership and anything purchased with that money. Federal statutes do not provide a definition of community property. Who owns what property in a marriage, after divorce, or after a spouse's death depends on whether the couple lives in a common law property state or a community property state.During marriage, these classifications may seem trivial -- and typically aren't a factor -- but in the unfortunate events of divorce or death, these details become very important. If you die without a will, Washington courts first determine which of your assets are community property since your spouse automatically inherits all community property upon your death. Generally, community property is property acquired while you were married, and separate property is property you acquired before marriage. Community Property Agreements allow both spouses to confirm that all property should be considered community as of the date of death. However, the community property is not aggregated; in theory, a spouse can only will away one-half of each individual item of community property. The surviving owner may also claim property rights under 26.16.100, by filing and recording a document outlining his/her interest in the property. Moreover, the laws governing spousal rights at death, called community property laws or elective share laws—depending on the state—vary greatly from state to state. Wills also provide directions regarding how your property should be distributed. 26.16.240 Quasi-community property — Effect of lifetime transfers — Claims by surviving spouse or surviving domestic partner — Waiver. Washington is a community property state, which means that property you and your spouse acquire during your marriage is considered jointly owned. Community property generally includes: All earnings of either spouse during the marriage (including interest on investments, capital gains, retirement benefits, and other assets); These laws operate like a default will for those who do not leave a surviving rights... 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