Summer is finally here, a much welcomed and appreciated time for Ohioans who spend so many months couped up inside. While some stay to savor the sun over Lake Erie, others are off elsewhere to family cabins or cottages. These annual trips produce years of memories, but have you ever considered what would become of your beloved vacation home if something happened to you? If you haven’t yet left estate plans for your out-of-state property, it’s time to do so or taint dreamy summers with a nightmare for your survivors instead.
Just as with in-state assets, without estate plans, your out-of-state property will go through probate (the legal procedure for settling and transferring estate, assets and debts) to determine who will receive inheritance. Probate is governed by county, so while your process may begin in Cuyahoga County (or where you reside), a separate second probate must be filed in the county of your out-of-state property, such as in Michigan or North Carolina. Each state has its own rules regarding ancillary probate administration. Ohio’s is addressed in Chapter 2129 of the Ohio Revised Code. This “ancillary” probate can quickly make things complicated and frustrating.
To help you navigate, you’ll likely need to obtain legal counsel from an attorney local to your out-of-state property — or even out-of-state proper ties if you have additional assets elsewhere. Now, you’re dealing with multiple probate cases with different properties, and communicating with two or more attorneys, or even additional family members, some of which are only available virtually and in a different time zone. I’ve seen families go through this costly, time-consuming, completely unavoidable mess left by their loved ones. But with due diligence and proper estate planning, you can prevent major headaches for your family.
Planning for out-of-state property
The good news is that, if you are proactive, you only need to seek legal counsel from one source. A simple approach is to establish a Living Trust to determine ownership and allow you to pass along your out-of-state property — whether it be a timeshare, boat, land etc. — to heirs without an ancillary probate process. This means that the property will remain in your name until death, at which point your successor Trustee can transfer it to the intended beneficiary.
A second choice is to transfer the property before death. A “joint tenant ownership” allows the surviving owner to absorb the share of the descendant.
These options provide the most cost-effective and easy solution for transitioning your property, giving you peace of mind that it will be preserved for generations to come.
If you have questions or need help planning for your out-of-state property, contact me today to set up a time to chat.