Marital property pennsylvania death divorce

They may choose joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety, or tenancy-in-common.

Your Marital Responsibilities

In most states, the character of the property in question is determined by the nature of the property itself, the nature of the event giving rise to the need for the particular characterization of property ownership, and the manner, agreement, and instrument by which it was acquired.

If the event giving rise to the need for the characterization is divorce, a set of rules will apply to each portion of the marital property, depending on how it was acquired and what kind of property it is: bank account, primary home, automobile, etc.

A very old common law scheme of division of marital property is known as "dower and curtesy. Dower generally preserved a percentage share of the value of the estate. Curtesy is essentially the same system in reverse, giving the husband a percentage share of his wife's estate. However, dower and curtesy has generally become obsolete in the modern world. Laws of descent and distribution, divorce and property distribution, and use of joint tenancies, tenancies-in-common, and tenancies by the entirety have largely made it unnecessary to be concerned with the surviving spouse being left with no part of the marital property.

This protects couples that move from a community property state into one where community property is not recognized, from drastic changes in the character and disposition of their property upon the death of a spouse. However, if the property was owned as " tenancy in common ," then the property can go to someone other than the surviving spouse, per the deceased spouse's will. Not all property has a title or deed. In this case, generally, whoever paid for the property or received it as a gift owns it.

If the couple divorces or obtains a legal separation , the court will decide how the marital property will be divided. Of course, the couple can enter into an agreement before the marriage, explaining how to distribute the marital property upon divorce. Community property states follow the rule that all assets acquired during the marriage are considered "community property. This marital property includes earnings, all property bought with those earnings, and all debts accrued during the marriage. Community property begins at the marriage and ends when the couple physically separates with the intention of not continuing the marriage.

Can Marital Separation Make Things Better

So, any earnings or debts originating after this time will be separate property. Any assets acquired before the marriage are considered separate property , and are owned only by that original owner. A spouse can, however, transfer the title of any of their separate property to the other spouse gift or to the community property making a spouse an account holder on bank account. Spouses can also comingle their separate property with community property, for example, by adding funds from before the marriage to the community property funds.

Pennsylvania Inheritance Laws | What You Should Know - SmartAsset

Spouses may not transfer, alter, or eliminate any whole piece of community property without the other spouse's permission, but can manage their own half. However, the whole piece includes the other spouse's one half interest. In other words, that spouse cannot be alienated the one half that belongs to them. Example : Martha and Fred have been married for 10 years.

What You Need To Know About Inheritance Rights

Martha works as a successful doctor and uses her earnings to buy a car. That car is community property, and both Fred and Martha own the car equally.

Example : Bernice owns a valuable piece of antique furniture that she acquired before the marriage. She alone owns the antique as her separate property. While the right to an elective share is automatically provided, the elective share is not automatically paid. The surviving spouse must follow specific procedural requirements to claim it.

While not often the case, there are situations where a surviving spouse essentially forfeits their right to take an election under 20 Pa. It is important to speak with an experienced Pennsylvania estate planning lawyer when drafting any Pennsylvania estate planning documents, specifically a Will, to ensure that your estate planning goals are accomplished.

Contact the experienced attorneys at The Martin Law Firm at to discuss your Pennsylvania estate planning goals. Please submit the form and an attorney will contact you shortly. Please indicate how you would like to be contacted in the form.

In Pennsylvania, What Happens if We Divorce Without Dividing Our Property?

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