One of the black letter laws in the world of probate is that real property, that is land, homes, etc., must be probated in the state where they are. That means that if you own a primary home in New Jersey and a summer home or a second home in Florida or New York, you’ll need to deal with probate in each of those states. Each state will assess the required fees and you’ll likely need to hire an attorney for at least one of those transactions.
So, as you talk to your family and prepare them for the eventual transition of your estate to your loved one, make sure that you discount the value of that property by 3-5% to account for the fees.
Now, I said that last sentence with a fair amount of sarcasm. The reason is that paying those fees is a voluntary act. With some simple estate planning, you can make sure that your entire estate is passed on to loved ones from within the confines of your trusted legal counselor’s office.
By creating a living trust, you can pass title to the house from you to loved ones privately and in exactly the manner you choose. An effective estate plan should help you:
Give what you want,
To whom you want,
When you want them to have it,
In the way you want them to have it.
So, as you travel to your summer home and start the process of “opening” the house (you know, turning the electricity on, flushing the water lines, etc.), think about the housekeeping you should be doing to make sure that your property is transferred to your loved ones as smoothly and with as little fees and necessary.
Posted by Victor J. Medina,
Medina, Martinez & Castroll, LLC