Washington is one of nine states (mostly on the west coast) that follow community property laws when it comes to Estate Planning. This is important to note because it will wholly affect the way you and your loving spouse choose to draft your wills and other estate planning documents. But, what if your loving spouse no longer loves you? These community property laws are also incredibly helpful to understand for purposes of Family Law. For example, if you purchase a home during your marriage, community property helps the judge determine who owns the equity after a divorce.
Community property holds that all assets and debts acquired during the marriage are owned equally by the two spouses. So, in a perfect world, a judge would be able to split all of your divorce assets down the middle. And, in many cases, this will work. However, unlike in California, this perfect world is not the law in Washington. Rather, Washington follows a policy driven law to split all property as is "fair and equitable." This standard can make it difficult for parties to find common ground since one party may believe he or she is entitled to more than half of the assets.
So when it comes to dividing assets, know the law. While 50-50 may be easier for you to calculate, it may not necessarily meet the fair and equitable test applied by the courts. If you want to know how fair and equitable your Family Law plan is right now, contact Magnuson Lowell for a free telephone consultation.