“Community Property and Community Property With Right of Survivorship” – California law on holding title to property

California law on joint ownership of real property

California real estate law-c-


“Community Property and Community Property With Right of Survivorship”

A married couple or registered domestic partners may hold property as community property. (Cal. Fam. Code §760.)

Community property is similar to joint tenancy in that the shares are equal and there is also a right to possession of the entire property. (Cal. Fam. Code §751.) Unlike joint tenancy, there is no right of survivorship with community property, so the deceased spouse’s portion of the property is transferred by trust or a will, or through the rules of intestate succession if there is no will.

The primary benefit of holding a property as community property is for tax reasons.  If a husband and wife own property as community property, under both federal and California law there is a step up in basis for both halves of the property upon the death of the first spouse. In other forms of holding title such as joint tenancy or tenants in common only one half or the property will get a stepped up basis.

California also permits property to be held as community with right of survivorship (Cal. Civ. Code §682.1).  This form of ownership combines the benefits of community property and joint tenancy.  Upon the death of one spouse, the property passes to the survivor, without administration, subject to the same procedures as property held in joint tenancy. The right of survivorship can be terminated pursuant to the same procedures by which a joint tenancy may be severed. (Cal. Civ. Code §682.1.)  Additionally, this form of ownership also has the tax benefits of a step up in basis for both halves of the property upon the death of one spouse.

By Harrison K. Long.   Source of some information is California law and the California Association of Realtors.  This is for information only and is not the providing of legal services.  If you have questions about how you should hold title to real property in California, contact an experienced real estate attorney.

About Harrison K. Long

Professional real estate representative, Realtor, GRI, Broker associate, Evergreen Realty HomeSmart - Orange County, CA - CA BRE 01410855 - Helping property owners, estate trustees, executors and administrators, fiduciaries, bankers, investor group managers, property owners, with listing and sale of properties - helping people with their best decisions about selling and buying homes and real estate. Orange County Association of REALTORs, prior service on its board of directors. California Association of Realtors, now serving by appointment on its board of directors. National Association of Realtors, member. Also an attorney member of the California State Bar Association #69137 - Contact by telephone or text at 949-701-2515.
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