In many San Diego communities, and especially at the beaches of La Jolla, Del Mar, Cardiff, Encinitas, and Carlsbad, there are people who own a home but make their residence in another state. Or maybe you live here in California and own a second home in Colorado, Oregon, Utah or some other state. Why is estate planning especially important for you?
If you own real estate or even tangible personal property in more than one state, each state will be involved in the distribution of your property upon your death unless you do estate planning. The state where real property or other assets is located has the authority to resolve issues of title to property. So if you make your residence in California but own a timeshare in Hawaii, a timeshare in Florida, and a cabin in Colorado, probate proceedings called ancillary probate will have to be set up in each of those states and in California. Ancillary probate could be necessary if you have cars, boats or airplanes registered in another state or oil, gas, and mineral rights. With the filing of a probate, comes additional costs and probate fees and additional time to conclude each probate.
There are several ways to avoid ancillary probate of property in another state. The best way to transfer title to out of state property upon your death is to have a revocable trust and record each piece of property in the name of your trust. Upon your death, there will be no probate, just the administration of your trust in California, a process that can be accomplished without multiple probates.
Another way is to title the real estate or personal property is to put the property in the joint names of you and your spouse with rights of survivorship, however if both you and your spouse die together, the property will need to be probated. If you want to title property in your name and some other individual as joint tenants, there are disadvantages. The joint owner can be sued and a judgment placed on the property which could keep you from selling the property. Also if you put another indidivual on title with you, the IRS could consider the transfer a gift, to which a gift tax may be applicable.
The bottom line is if you have real or personal property in different states, you need to plan carefully. If we can help with your estate planning, contact us.