What constitute commingling of property?

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What constitute commingling of property?

I’m widowed and have all my estate money in a separate account that is not accessible

to my girlfriend. My house is free and clear and in my Trust. My girlfriend and I opened a checking account together and I plan on paying the taxes every year from this joint account. Is this considered commingling? I want the house to go only to my kids.The taxes are to be paid out of our joint checking account that is funded by both our SSA and pension, never from my Trust money.

Asked on July 9, 2016 under Estate Planning, Washington

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Commingling is when you mix the ownership of property or assets. 
To keep the bulk of your funds as your separate property, make sure you keep those funds in a separate account.  Only move to joint account when need be.
To keep the house clearly yours, make sure that you do not transfer any title documents.  If you transfer any title documents, you run the risk of co-mingling the asset-- or having it perceived that you gifted part of the asset. 
Your idea of putting a limited amount of funds into a joint account to pay the taxes is okay.  It can be easily argued that this is only taxes, not an act of ownership.  It could also be argued as an act of ownership and used against you.  However, it would be much better if you each just paid half out of your separate accounts.  The best practice would be for you to pay all of the taxes out of your separate account.  If your girlfriend wants to contribute, let her help with utilities, groceries... things that cannot be construed as acts of an owner.  This will give you the most protection from co-mingling of all of the options you have.


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