Community Property Across State Lines: Square Pegs and Round Holes
Probate and Property, January/February 2005, Volume 19, Number 1
By Karen E. Boxx
Karen E. Boxx is a professor of law at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle, Washington.
The marital property systems of the nine community property states vary greatly from the systems in the 41 remaining states and also vary greatly from each other. Failing to recognize these variations can be dangerous for attorneys with clients who move from one type of marital property system to another and also for attorneys with clients who keep their residences in one state but own property and transact business in other states. This article addresses what can happen when community property crosses state lines, the classification of property for the migratory client, issues of creditor rights, and other implications. The cases discussed below give very little clear guidance other than the rule that the proper approach in these circumstances is to be cautious rather than cavalier.