Since Washington is a community property state, will everything automatically transfer to a surviving spouse if there isn’t a will?
Washington is one of eight “community property” states where each spouse owns an undivided one half interest in property acquired during marriage, however, not all property of a passing spouse will automatically transfer to the survivor. It is possible to own “separate” property in Washington as well. Assets such as bank and financial accounts or life insurance will automatically pass if the beneficiary designations are named, but interest in a house (real estate) will not automatically transfer without a Community Property Agreement. Without a Community Property Agreement typically “probate” will be required to transfer your spouse’s half interest in the home to you.
To be ready for life’s “curveballs,” all of us need the five basic estate planning documents regardless of our wealth - a Will, Durable General Power of Attorney (POA) for financial matters, Health Care POA, Health Care Directive and a Community Property Agreement. The earlier we have these in place the more options we have.
To learn more, plan to attend one of our free Elder Law Workshops, register here, or call to schedule a free consultation.