As of the date of this writing, there are nine community property states in the U.S. Community property is defined as property that is acquired during the marriage and is owned jointly by both spouses. Exceptions to the community property rule include gifts or inheritances. However, it’s also important to note that property may be considered community property if it is commingled, even if the property was obtained prior to the marriage, was a gift, or was inheritance.
The community property states are:
- New Mexico
Alternatives to Only Having Joint Accounts
Joint financial accounts are not the only option for married couples. There are a multitude of reasons that couples may desire to keep certain assets under separate ownership. If you have the need or desire, there are other ways to save and use your money while maintaining a happy and healthy relationship.
- Maintain separate accounts. You don’t have to share accounts or open joint financial accounts if you don’t want to. You may be more comfortable keeping your finances separate.
- Share expenses. If you don’t want to open a joint account, you can still share expenses by dividing who pays each bill. You can use your individual accounts to pay your share of the bills.
- Open a joint account to cover specific expenses. You can open a new joint account and use it to pay household expenses. Decide how much each of you will contribute to the shared account.
- Have a joint account for shared savings. This account can be used for an emergency fund, or long-term family goals instead of daily expenses.
Married couples have a variety of options in regards to how to register and title property. Every relationship is different and you need to do what makes the most sense for you and your spouse. You can combine your bank accounts, keep them separate, or try a combination of the two. And if you happen to live in a community property state, be mindful that joint ownership is automatically assumed if there isn’t clear evidence that would indicate sole and separate ownership.