Community Property Rights of Survivorship

Updated: Jun 26

Original Publication: San Antonio Express News, October 20, 1989

Starting August 1989, Texas spouses became able to use a “Community Property Survivorship Agreement” to automatically pass their community property to the survivor when one spouse dies. A properly written, signed, and filed survivorship agreement simplifies the complex tasks faced by a widow or widower. Still, a last will and testament is necessary to cover issues which the survivorship agreement cannot address.

Historically our community property system, which we inherited from the Spanish, thwarted attempts by married couples to create “survivorship” arrangements for the couple’s community property. When one of the spouses died, title could only pass to the survivor through the last will and testament. Thanks to a constitutional amendment, the community property survivorship agreement changes that pattern. The opportunity to automatically pass your communi