Kinds of Property

California property laws provide six (6) kinds of property. They are:

1.     Personal Property

Personal property is movable property owned by an individual. It is not land or attached to land. “Every kind of property that is not real is personal.”

2.     Real Property

Real or immovable property is land and any and all property that is affixed to, incidental or appurtenant to it. Also, real property includes land and buildings, and anything attached to the land. Additionally, condominiums ARE real property..

3.     Separate Property

Any property acquired before marriage, after separation or any time by gift or bequest is separate property. This property can be real or personal property. However,  spouses can agree in writing to change the character of any property to separate or community.

4.     Quasi-Marital Property

First of all, a court must make the determination that a marriage is void or voidable. Next, it must find that either party or both parties had a reasonable, good-faith belief that the marriage was valid. Then, the court must declare the marriage to be putative. Once the marriage is declared putative, the court can then divide the property that was acquired during the union equally or not. This is property that would have been community property if the union had not been void or voidable. It is called quasi-marital property.

5.     Quasi-Community Property

Quasi-community property is real or personal property, wherever situated. Either spouse must have acquired this property while domiciled outside of California. And it must be property that would have been community property if the spouse(s) who acquired the property had been domiciled in this state at the time of its acquisition.

6.     Community Property

 Community property is all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person or a married couple during the marriage while domiciled in this state; the respective interests of each spouse in community property during the marriage are present, existing and equal.

Title to Real Property

Holding Title

Under California property laws, spouses may hold title to real property as joint tenants, tenants in common, community property, community property with a right of survivorship or in trust. Holding title is the name and way that a person owns property. An example is: Property is deeded to John and Maria Garcia as joint tenants. Or to John and Maria Garcia, husband and wife, as community property.

Holding title to property as joint tenants gives each spouse an undivided equal right to possess the property. Each spouse has an equal ownership interest in the property and the names of both spouses are on one deed. Joint tenancy requires title to be acquired at the same time, by the same conveyance. Further, the title must expressly state that the spouses hold the title to the property as joint tenants.

Joint Tenants

Automatic conveyance occurs by operation of law to the surviving joint tenant when a joint tenant dies. However, if a joint tenant feloniously and intentionally kills the other joint tenant, the property passes as the decedent’s property and the killer has no rights by survivorship.

Tenants in Common

Spouses holding title to real property as tenants in common, may own unequal shares. Further,  tenant in common deeds allow multiple people to own property with each person owning an undivided fractional interest. Each tenant in common has a deed that sets forth his or her name and the fractional percentage of interest in the property owned. right of survivorship does not exist for property owned as tenants in common.

Community Property

If spouses hold the title to real property as community property, then the respective interests of each spouse in community property during the marriage are present, existing and equal. Equal rights of management,  control of the property and the right to include one-half of the community property in his or her will exists for all property held as community property. If one of the spouses dies without disposing of his or his share of community property, the property automatically passes to the surviving spouse without the need of a probate procedure.

Community Property with Right of Survivorship

When spouses hold property as community property with the right of survivorship, each spouse owns an equal undivided one-half interest in the property, but there is no right to will or dispose his or her share of the property. Automatic conveyance to the surviving spouse by operation of law to the surviving spouse for title held as community property with the right of survivorship. 

In Trust

Spouses can also hold property in a trust. If a spouse transfers community property into a trust, unless the trust provides otherwise, the transferred property remains community property. The trust must be revocable as to that property transferred. A modification of property in the trust during the marriage requires the consent of both spouses. Either spouse can revoke a trust instrument unless the trust instrument expressly provides otherwise. 

Where to Get More Information about California Property

California Family Law 2021 Edition textbook
You can get more information about California property by purchasing California Family Law 2021 Edition by LW Greenberg Esq. This book will explain family law concepts, issues and laws. And as one California Superior Court judge stated: This book is easy to read and understand. Check out what all the judges had to say about this book by clicking here. Go to to purchase this book by clicking here.

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