California Estate Planning & Community Property: What You Need To Know
UPDATED: January 5, 2020
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California's community property law generally attributes 50% of the assets acquired and income earned during a marriage to each partner. This has a direct and different effect on estate planning in California than it does in other states whose laws call for equitable distribution under common law. It can be a confusing area of the law, so we've boiled it down to what you need to know - with help from an expert in this area.
California Attorney Vincent J. Russo
In a recent interview, Vincent J. Russo, a California attorney whose practice consists of estate planning and probate litigation, told us that California's community property law is different than other states' laws that follow the common law doctrine of equitable distribution. He explained:
Russo says that one of the things that he frequently does is requires spouses to sign off on it with a proper estate plan to make sure that the surviving spouse is adequately taken care of in the interim until that person passes away.
Moving to California?
We asked Russo whether he would advise someone who was moving to California from a non-community property state to have a new will created to make sure that their interests are protected. Here's what he told us:
The main reasons that I tell people to draft a will, a trust or some type of estate planning type of documents are when they got married, when they have children, when they are buying a house and have never had one before, when they are starting to accumulate assets, when they have a special needs child or something along those lines. They would be all good candidates for estate planning.
Estate planning, which includes wills, trusts, health care directives and probate issues, is a complicated area of the law. If you would like to speak with an experienced California estate planning attorney about your situation, please click here.