Having Assets in Multiple States

Today, it is common for retirees to have residences in multiple states.  Some choose to keep his or her family home and acquire a small home in Florida to visit during the cold months.  When a person who owns residences or financial accounts in two different states passes, an ancillary probate proceeding must be commenced where the other real property is located.  An ancillary proceeding is an administrative proceeding that is required in addition to the original probate process of a Last Will & Testament. Usually, this administrative proceeding is required because a person owns real property outside of his or her home state.

For instance, if an individual has a primary residence in New York and a second home in Florida, the laws of Florida would govern the ancillary proceeding.  Therefore, upon an individual’s death, his or her Last Will & Testament would be probated in their home state and an ancillary probate proceeding would be commenced in the state where the other real property is located.  In addition to real property, an ancillary proceeding may be required if a person had other assets such as boats or cars that were registered outside of his or her home state. As stated above, the law of the state in which these assets are located will govern.

A common drawback of an ancillary proceeding is that it imposes additional costs.  This may include attorney fees, court fees or other administrative costs.  It is important to note that if an individual dies intestate, those who inherit property or other assets may be different within each state or inherit different portions.  Intestate refers to an individual who dies without a Will. The reason that different individuals may inherit different properties in different states is because the laws of intestacy vary amongst the fifty states.

If an individual has assets in multiple states, it is beneficial to create a revocable trust in order to avoid an ancillary probate proceeding.  With a revocable trust, the assets can be titled in the same name as the trust. Therefore, upon an individual’s death, his or her estate would not incur additional expenses due to an ancillary probate proceeding.  In addition, the assets within the trust would be properly distributed to his or her beneficiaries within a timely manner.

The experienced New Jersey estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones, & Sweeney help seniors and their families handle all aspects of estate planning. Our New Jersey estate planning lawyers are trusted by their clients to handle each legal matter with diligence and compassion. For more information, contact our New Jersey estate planning law firm at (973) 256-0456.

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