What is Special Community Property in Texas and Why Does It Matter During Estate Administration?
What happens to community property when a person other than the surviving spouse, such as an adult child or unrelated person, is appointed to administer an estate? Will the house be sold to pay the debts of the decedent?
Protecting assets versus paying estate debts
When a person other than the surviving spouse is given authority to administer the estate of a decedent, the surviving spouse may be in a situation where the estate administrator controls community property co-owned by the surviving spouse, unless the surviving spouse can show that the property is exempt or otherwise qualifies as special community property.
Texas law provides certain exemptions to prevent community assets from being sold to pay debts of a deceased spouse. Some property is exempt, such as the primary residence. Other special community assets may also be exempt, if the surviving spouse asserts the exemption.
Defining special community property
Special community property is defined as community assets subject to one spouse's sole management control and disposition. This distinction can be very important when the deceased spouse's estate might not be sufficient to cover all of the deceased spouse's debts.
An example of special community property might be the surviving spouse's vehicle — the vehicle might have been purchased during the marriage with community funds, but if the vehicle is titled only in the surviving spouse's name, it may qualify as the surviving spouse's special community property and, therefore, be exempt from liability for the deceased spouse's debts.
The knowledgeable attorneys at Peterson Law Group have extensive experience in estate planning and probate litigation. We help clients develop comprehensive estate plans and navigate the probate process, whether you are an administrator, surviving spouse or both. Make an appointment by calling 979-703-7014 or 936-337-4681 today or visit us online to request a meeting.