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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS > Estate Planning Questions & Answers > WHAT IS A COMMUNITY PROPERTY AGREEMENT?

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California is a Community Property state. That means that there is a legal presumption that whatever a husband and wife own, they own as their community property rather than either of them owning things as their separate property. 

Married couples can confirm that they own everything as their community property by signing a written Community Property Agreement. 

The advantage of the written Community Property Agreement is that it allows couples to avoid probate when the first spouse dies. 

NOTE: however, using a Community Property Agreement to avoid probate is only appropriate if the married couple does not have a taxable estate.  Otherwise, the result may be that substantially more estate tax than might have otherwise been due, is paid when the second spouse dies.