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Estate Planning Strategy If You Own Property In Another State

If you own properties in California and another state, creating an estate plan can be challenging. It is essential to understand the laws of each state and how they will affect the estate planning process and requirements. You may be unaware that if you are in this situation, you must take specific steps to ensure they are also transferred to your trust, the same as your properties in your home states.

It’s essential to seek an experienced estate planning attorney that can handle multiple-state properties. They can help you determine which documents to prepare and update. In addition, they can talk to their colleagues in another state to help them out with your case. It can avoid the probate process if you ensure your property in another state is transferred under the name of your trust.

What Is The Probate Process?

Probate is a court process your estate goes through when you pass away whether with a will or without a will. It involves several steps, including the validation of the existing will, conducting an inventory and appraisal of the property, paying debts and taxes, and distributing assets to your beneficiaries.

The probate process ensures that all the legal requirements are followed to protect your and your beneficiaries. It begins when the executor you named in the will makes a petition to the court. The executor must provide proof of death and details about your assets.

The executor must give information regarding any unpaid debts that need to be addressed. If you did not create a will, the court will determine how assets are divided among heirs and appoint an administrator to manage the estate.

You may opt for extra legal steps to help protect your assets from going through probate upon your death. This includes setting up trusts to help secure the inheritance of your loved ones. Also, they must transfer your properties including those located in another state into the trust. Further, they can use other estate planning tools to avoid probate when you pass away.

How To Avoid The Probate Process?

There are several steps you can take to ensure your wishes are carried out while avoiding the probate process. Probate can be lengthy and expensive, so you don’t your family to face that burden. You must act now and set up an estate planning tool that suits your situation. One option is creating a living trust.

Create A Revocable Trust

When you create a revocable trust, you can transfer your assets into the trust, including those located in another state. You can then appoint a trustee to manage them and distribute them according to your wishes upon your death. This avoids the need for your properties to go through the probate process.

Why would a revocable trust be a common choice? A revocable trust is flexible, you can retain control of your assets and benefit from them, you can revoke or cancel it anytime, and it can minimize estate taxes. So with your property in another state, you can still use it during your lifetime though you have transferred it into your trust.

Use Other Estate Planning Tools

Another way to avoid probate is by having all of your assets owned jointly with the right of survivorship. That way, they pass directly to the other owner when you die and do not go through probate court. Or you can put the name of your beneficiaries in your life insurance policy and ensure it’s up to date.

If you have properties in another state, you must add the name of your beneficiary in the deeds or title of your properties. So the surviving party, that is your beneficiary, can keep the properties and become the legal owner upon your death without going through probate.

  • Make use of joint tenancy and transfer-on-death (TOD) deeds – Joint tenancy allows you to transfer ownership of certain assets to another person (such as your spouse or child). Additionally, you can use transfer-on-death or TOD deeds to transfer real estate ownership to your beneficiaries when you pass away.
  • Utilize payable-on-death bank accounts – You can transfer money into a payable-on-death account. This will enable the designated beneficiary to access the funds directly without going through probate when you die.
  • Name beneficiaries on life insurance policies – By naming a beneficiary your life insurance policy, you can ensure that the funds are paid out directly to your beneficiary upon death.

What If You Own A Property In Another State?

If you have properties outside of your home state, your family is exposed to dealing with the probate court, not just in one state but in two or more. Creating a trust is not only an effective strategy to avoid probate but also an essential step toward ensuring the well-being of your loved ones.

But if you fail to transfer all your assets into a trust, your loved ones are likely to go through ancillary probate. It is a court proceeding that allows non-residents of the state to dispose of the decedent’s property. It can be distributed among the beneficiaries or sold and distributed the proceeds to the beneficiaries.

Learn More About Protecting Your Assets With An Estate Planning Attorney If You Own Property In Another State

For instance, you created a California trust but failed to transfer your Montana vacation residence into that trust. In that case, your family will have to probate your property in Montana. The Montana probate court can order the distribution of the property among the beneficiaries. Or it can order its sale and distribute the proceeds to the beneficiaries.

The fact that your Montana property is registered in your trust will not be sufficient to avoid probate. Its ownership must be transferred from your name to your trust’s name so it will not go through ancillary probate. Otherwise, your loved ones may lose that property which can cause additional sorrow if it has a sentimental value attached to it.

Why Is It Crucial To Inform Your Estate Planning Attorney?

Having multiple properties in different states can cause difficulty in the probate process, as each state has different laws and regulations. To avoid this, you need to let your estate planning attorney know the complete list of your real estate holdings so they can properly execute your estate plan.

Your estate planning attorney can create a plan that covers each state’s property. This includes ensuring no conflicts between states or issues with ownership rights when it’s time for the property to pass on to your beneficiaries upon your death. With these plans in place, you can ensure that everything goes smoothly and avoid ancillary probate in the process.

It is imperative to inform your attorney about all your assets during estate planning. Something as innocent as having a vacation home can compel your family to spend endless time and money that could have been avoided. So make a list of your property now and ensure nothing is forgotten.

Work With Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys

Estate planning attorneys at Weiner Law are dedicated to ensuring that your assets are adequately protected. They are highly knowledgeable and competent in dealing with your estate so you can have peace of mind while assuring a secure future for your heirs or beneficiaries.

Weiner Law provides personalized service tailored to your individual needs. Whether it’s estate planning or asset protection for multiple properties in different states, they can assist you in ensuring your affairs are properly handled. They’ll review your documents and advise on any potential issues or risks associated with ownership across various states.

In addition, they can create an effective strategy for protecting your assets. They will also be able to offer guidance on how to minimize estate tax liability while ensuring that property disputes are settled quickly and efficiently.


If you own property in another state, estate planning is a must to avoid probate proceedings in multiple jurisdictions. Taking the time to update your estate plan can save you and your family significant time and money. You should transfer all your properties into a trust you create and maintain.

Ensuring information and documents are complete will streamline the process of transferring assets upon death, ensuring ease for your loved ones. Securing an attorney competent in estate planning who can help you craft an effective strategy explicitly tailored to handling properties from multiple states is essential.

Reach out to a San Diego estate planning lawyer to obtain additional information.

About Daniel Weiner

Daniel Weiner is a US and UK licensed attorney, based in San Diego, who provides trust administration and estate planning services to families and individuals across California. Dan guides his clients through the often confusing maze of financial and legal decisions to create plans that ensure the well-being of their families and the accomplishment of cherished family goals.


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