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Question:  I inherited money from my mother and deposited it into our joint account, community account.  They are now telling me that my money is community money and I have to split it with my husband. All because I commingled the account.

Answer: may or may not be true. 

The example: Wife receives inheritance check from her mother’s estate – say $10,000.  Wife deposits the check into the joint account with Husband – the household account for example. This is the commingling.   Wife immediately opens an account with her bank in her name and transfers the $10,000 from the joint account into her separate account. She has used the community joint account as nothing more than a clearing house.  Her $10,000 inheritance is protected. 

This rule of tracing applies best when the transactions are close in time – real close.  Don’t go to the court house, under this rule, a year later and say “hey, I used the joint household account as a clearing house.” Not really going to work.

Clearing House or Identical Sum Inference Method – a pattern of identifiable withdrawals and identifiable deposits of separate funds to and from an account or accounts. This method of tracing is not as persuasive when the transactions are not close in time. McKinley v. McKinley, 496 S.W.2d 540 (Tex 1973); certificate of deposit case in Dallas Federal Savings. Latham v. Allison, 560 S.W.2d 481 (Tex. Civ. App. – Fort Worth 1978, writ ref’d n.r.e), a probate case where both H and W died. Traced but no parole evidence. Tracing failed. It is not enough that separate funds could have been the source of the deposit – must be proven that they are the source. Hanau v. Hanau, 730 S.W.2d 663 (Tex. 1987) – stock trade case from date of marriage through divorce. Emphasis placed upon the stock transactions took place the same day.

Clearing House or Identical sum Inference places strong emphasis upon same day transactions (close in time), meticulous records, and very very similar sums.