Alaska property laws

Alaska has adopted a community property system, but it is optional. Spouses may create community property by entering into a community property agreement or by creating a community property trust. See Alaska Stat. ยงยง 34.77.020 - 34.77.995. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a similar statute allowing spouses to elect a community property system under Oklahoma law would not be recognized for federal income tax reporting purposes. Commissioner v. Harmon, 323 U.S. 44 (1944). The Harmon decision should also apply to the Alaska system for income reporting purposes.[1]

The theory underlying Alaska's community property is analogous to that of a partnership. Each spouse contributes labor (and in some states, capital) for the benefit of the community, and shares equally in the profits and income earned by the community. Thus, each spouse owns an automatic 50% interest in all community property, regardless of which spouse acquired the community property. Spouses may also hold separate property, which they solely own and control, but the law in the Alaska states does not favor this.[1]

Spouses are also considered to share debts. Depending on Alaska state law, creditors of spouses may be able to reach all or part of the community property, regardless of how it is titled, to satisfy debts incurred by either spouse. State laws vary greatly on what property can be reached.[1]

Alaska AK community property & common law resources

Community property FAQs: Have more questions, or have you recently lived in or plan on moving outside of Alaska? If so, you will want to further familiarize yourself with this important marital law.
Search other states: Planning on moving outside of Alaska? Use our guide to view all community property states before your move so you can prepare financially.
Tax ramifications: The IRS has a great resource that explains community property laws and common laws and how they apply to married taxpayers domiciled in community property states, or cases otherwise raising community property issues.

Always check with your local community property divorce lawyer or a local tax accountant familiar with community property laws before proceeding. In the meantime, there are several good resources available to you should you want to learn more about community property laws in Alaska or any other state.


Research cited in this article was derived from the following source:

[1] IRS.gov. (2019). Basic Principles of Community Property Law. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/irm/part25/irm_25-018-001