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A tort occurring during marriage or cohabitation will be presumed to be community property. However, by tracing, damages for such injuries as a lost leg are separate property. If the nonvictim spouse dies, most states convert the classification from community property to separate property. When classification of a tort cause of action changes because of the death of the nonvictim spouse, the decedent's estate could assert a right to reimbursement against subsequent recovery for community funds spent for medical care or lost earnings if compensated in the award. The death of a victim spouse does not change the classification.

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