Since Texas is a community property state, when a spouse passes away, issues can sometimes arise with separate and community property. These issues arise especially in situations where the spouse who passed away (called a “decedent”) had children who were not also children of the surviving spouse and disputes arise.
A person who handles the decedent’s estate is generally called an “administrator.” Once a court appoints an administrator, the administrator can handle the decedent’s:
• separate property
• sole management community property
• joint management community property.
Sole management community property is property that the decedent kept apart from other property. If the property became mixed together during the marriage, it cannot be considered sole management property. Sole management community property includes:
• Income from separate property (for example, interest earned on an investment account)
• Settlement funds from a personal injury lawsuit.
Community property that is not kept separate from other community property is treated as joint management community property.
The surviving spouse keeps control of his or her own separate property, of course, and the sole management community property of the surviving spouse.