Many people retire in the snowy north and head to the warm south for a few months each year. If that is your scenario, it would be wise to keep your estate plan current because state laws are not usually the same, and your plan needs to take that into account, according to The Indiana Lawyer in “Multi-jurisdictional estate planning requires research, collaboration.”
This multi-state approach applies to anyone with property in more than one state—or country. Their estate planning attorney needs to understand and advise them about the laws governing each of the jurisdictions where they have assets. It requires extensive research and may require the help of other attorneys. If the cost is a concern, understand that the cost of doing this after death will likely become far more costly.
The first step is to identify the assets and where they are located, and then determine where the client maintains legal residence. People often have property in a few states, as well as bank accounts in a few states. Tangible assets, such as real estate, and intangible assets, such as bank accounts, are treated differently in estate planning law. Tangible assets are typically governed by the law where the asset is owned, while intangibles are governed by the law of where the client resides. One way to simplify this process is to put all the assets into a revocable trust, which helps the client avoid multiple ancillary probate proceedings.
Many states have probate laws with similar general principles; however, the details are often different. The problems become even more complex when the person has assets in foreign countries. In some countries, forced heirship will actually prohibit citizens from dictating where their assets go after death. In these countries, a certain percentage of a citizen’s assets must go to their children, spouse, etc. And some countries do not recognize the concept of a trust, so creating a revocable trust to avoid ancillary probate will not work in those countries.
An experienced estate planning attorney can advise you on creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances, and that may include multiple jurisdictional estate planning.
Reference: The Indiana Lawyer (Oct. 17, 2018) “Multi-jurisdictional estate planning requires research, collaboration”