Community Property in Washington State

The State of Washington considers all property to be community unless property can be clearly traced to a separate source. In addition to a separate source, the property must not be commingled with community funds. Commingling occurs when separate funds and community funds are deposited into the same account. Community property includes post-marriage wages and income from community assets. Separate property includes inheritances, property owned pre-marriage and income from separate property. There can be a separate interest in pension plans, brokerage accounts, real estate and businesses.

Assets may have a combination of separate and community interests. For example, a retirement plan (IRA, 401k, 403b, etc.) may have a balance at the date of marriage. If so, then this account had both separate and community interests. If real estate was purchased either before marriage or with separate funds, then this asset has both separate and community interests. If you have a brokerage account with a balance pre-marriage and you did not deposit community earnings or you deposited community earnings that are identifiable, the account may have a separate and community interest.

Again, to support a separate property claim, a tracing of the separate source and confirmation that community funds were not commingled to a point that the separate and community funds are indistinguishable is required.