Community Property

Tip – After a couple marries, any property they acquire belongs to both.

Idaho is a community property state. This means that when a couple marries, any property that an individual brings into the marriage is his or her separate property, and any property that is acquired during their marriage is community property and belongs equally to both.

Occasionally, when a couple buys a house, one spouse will put the mortgage and the title to the house just in his or her name. However, if that spouse whose name is not on the title did not make an agreement to give the other spouse his or her interest in the property, the house belongs to both, even though the property is titled in just one of their names. When one spouse passes away, half the value of the house belongs to the surviving spouse; the other half passes according to law or according to the decedent’s Will. This is true of all community property, regardless of whose name the property is in.

Sometimes when a house acquired during a second marriage is in the name of just one spouse, that spouse believes he or she can give the house in a Will to the children from a prior marriage—not acknowledging his or her spouse’s 50% interest in the house. This can lead to unnecessary conflict between the surviving spouse and the children.

There are many factors in these situations that must be understood to know what everyone’s rights are. But remember if you acquire property after you are married, with the joint assets of the couple, the property will be community property belonging equally to both members of the couple.

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Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.

June 2022