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Probate: Owning Property in Multiple States

Probate: Owning Property in Multiple States

How is an estate probated if someone dies owning property in multiple states?  What state is the probate court proceeding filed in? If someone dies owning property in more than one state, then their property may have to go through probate in multiple states.  

Domicile of the Decedent Decides Probate

Probate proceedings start in the domicile state of the person who dies (the decedent).  Domicile is the place that a person considers their home. A person’s domicile is usually the place where they currently live, but it doesn’t have to be. For instance, if someone splits their time between two residences (let’s say one in Arkansas and one in Florida), then their domicile would be the residence that they consider to be their permanent home, which can be established by such things as where they are registered to vote and where they pay taxes.  

Ancillary Probate

If someone dies owning property in multiple states, then after a probate proceeding is filed to divide property in their domicile state a second or ancillary probate proceeding will have to be filed in the other state or states that they own property in.  The laws of each state where the property is located must be followed. It is therefore advisable to hire an attorney licensed to practice law in the state where the property is located to handle the probate. At the very least the estate personal representative should consult with a local attorney about the laws of the state where the property is located and how to proceed.  

Not All Property Has to Be Probated

As I have stated in previous articles, not all property must be probated.  Land held jointly with someone else that has a right of survivorship designation does not have to be probated upon the death of one of the owners.  Likewise, property that transfers upon someone’s death via a beneficiary deed (in states like Arkansas that recognize such an instrument) does not have to go through probate court.  Also property that is placed in trust would not have to go through probate (regardless of what state it is situated in).  Properties owned in multiple states could be placed in the same trust instrument and upon the death of the current trust beneficiary, the properties would pass to the next beneficiaries set out in the trust, without the need to be probated.    

Contact Our Firm for Assistance

If you have recently inherited property in multiple states and need assistance with a probate or ancillary probate, or if you need assistance in planning your estate, feel free to contact our firm at (501) 960-6060 or by clicking here to schedule a free consultation.  

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