What is community property and what happens to it when you die?

In California, community property is any property acquired during a marriage or domestic partnership. Community property is owned equally by both parties. Spouses or partners are presumed to contribute equally to marital earnings, so income earned during the marriage or partnership is community property owned equally by both spouses. Community property does not include any separate property.

A person who owns community property can transfer his or her share (1/2) of the property to a beneficiary through a will. The surviving spouse or partner still owns the other half. If the partner or spouse dies intestate (without a will), the deceased spouse's or partner's half of the community property will pass to the surviving spouse or partner.