What if the decedent owned land in more than one state?

The laws of the state in which the deceased was a permanent resident or “domiciliary” govern who would receive all the deceased’s personal property, wherever it was located, and all the deceased’s real property located within the state. Thus probate almost always is undertaken in the home state.

If the decedent owned out-of-state real property, the laws of the other state govern who gets it (unless there is a Will). If there is a Will, after it is admitted to probate in the home state, it is usually must be submitted to probate in the other jurisdiction in which the deceased owned real property. That separate probate procedure is formally referred to as “ancillary probate”. Some states insist upon the appointment of a Personal Representative who is a local resident to administer the in-state property.

If there is no Will, Probate is usually required in each state where the real property is situated, in addition to the home state. Each state will have its own unique pattern for distributing the deceased’s real property. The real estate in State A all might go to the spouse, in State B it might go 1/3rd to the spouse, 1/3rd to the son and 1/3rd to the daughter, and in State C it might go 1/2 to the spouse and 1/4 each to the son and daughter.

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