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The Distribution of Assets and Debts on Death

Learn how separate property and community property are distributed upon a spouse’s death.


The death of a spouse ends a marriage. And just as when a marriage ends in dissolution, property must be divided. Recall that during marriage, each spouse owns his or her separate property plus a half interest in all community property. In the event of death, it’s necessary to determine which of the decedent’s property passes to the surviving spouse and which property passes to third parties. The rules governing such a determination come from the Family Code, the Probate Code, and caselaw.