#RichLifeLawyer Show 43: Is Inherited Property Separate Property or Community Property?

Is Inherited Property Separate Property or Community Property?

I had an interesting conversation today with someone who asked a question I think a lot of you might be wondering.

But before I get to the story, I’ve got to provide a little context.

This person wanted to give her property to her kid. But, she was worried that her kid’s spouse, whom was separated from the kid but still married to the kid, would use some influence to squeeze the money out of her.

She wanted to make sure that didn’t happen.

One of the things she was worried about was that by simply giving the kid her assets they would immediately become community property and the estranged husband would have a right to half.

Inherited Property is Not Community Property

I was quick to point out to her that no, inherited property is not automatically community property. I told her that, in fact, inherited property is actually specifically NOT community property.

Here is the statute (RCW 26.16.010 if you are keeping score at home):

Property and pecuniary rights owned by a spouse before marriage and that acquired by him or her afterwards by gift, bequest, devise, descent, or inheritance, with the rents, issues and profits thereof, shall not be subject to the debts or contracts of his or her spouse, and he or she may manage, lease, sell, convey, encumber or devise by will such property without his or her spouse joining in such management, alienation or encumbrance, as fully, and to the same extent or in the same manner as though he or she were unmarried.

But That’s Not All You Have to Worry About with Inherited Property

I made sure to warn this person I was talking to that there were a couple more things to worry about.

First, if the kid used the inherited property the wrong way, they could change the status of the property to community property.

Second, if the kid died while still married the spouse would receive all of the community property and half of the separate property (the other half would go to the kids).

These are important considerations because it still results in your family assets leaving the family. All the more reason to talk to an estate planning attorney.


Christopher Small

P.S. Don’t forget to check out my free ebook: “7 Estate Planning Mistakes Every Family Needs to Avoid.” It’s packed full of helpful information to help you get everything you want out of life (and after life).

Christopher Small is a Seattle estate planning lawyer who helps people get rich and live forever. He is also the owner of CMS Law Firm LLC.