Since my parents own property in several states, how will their estate be administered?

2 answers | Last updated: Jul 28, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My parents live in New York State, but they own property in Florida and spend half the year there. They also have a timeshare in Mexico. Will this complicate the administration of their estate? Which laws apply?

Expert Answers

Ashley Biteler is a trusts and estates attorney in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Your parents' primary residence is the one they list on their tax returns, and the one in which they pay state income tax. That state’s laws will govern their estate. If they haven’t already done so, your parents need to establish a revocable living trust and place all the property they own into that trust. Otherwise, their estate will have to go through probate in each state in which they own property. Dealing with probate in one state is bad enough; going through it in multiple states is expensive and time-consuming, and it should be avoided at all costs.

Your parents will want to work with an experienced trusts and estates attorney in their home state of New York. That person can draw up their will and revocable living trust, and then tell your parents how to transfer their assets into the trust.

Community Answers

Geo2015 answered...

It’s a good thing her parents are willing to deal with a future estate, or better yet a trust for this type of, apparently, real estate based inheritance, with regards to the heirs or beneficiaries who will be inheriting the house, or property. Although it does seem rather complicated, and probably not inexpensive with respect to the attorney’s involvement, drawing up a will and setting up a revocable living trust based in New York, plus transferring the assets into the trust. It’s unfortunate the trust couldn’t be based in Florida, as New York taxes are so much heavier than Florida, given state and city taxes in New York, plus, of course, federal. Whatever. Filing probate in multiple states, as the Expert here says, would be so much expensive regardless. So it does seem that the trust would be the better way to handle this.

Anyway. Aside from expense, the interesting thing I see a lot of, in situations like this, regardless of the state it’s based in – after the parents have passed – is the way beneficiaries who have poor cash flow compensate (if they have an immediate need for a large cash advance) – by using the property they are inheriting to get a loan on inheritance… they are smart enough to borrow money against their inheritance in trust, with a trust fund loan, or trust fund cash advance, or inheritance cash advance. At first researching trust fund loans and inheritance loans with lightening speed! Similar to how heirs of estates in probate get probate loans… inheritance loans based on assets in probate, rather than in trust.

What really amazes me in these situations is how incredibly fast beneficiaries (who are generally, up to this point, completely inexperienced in financial matters like this) will fill out a trust fund loan, trust advance, inheritance advance, or probate advance, inheritance cash advance or inheritance advance loan application – with blazing speed, usually with one of the more well known trust fund loan or trust fund cash advance, inheritance loans or inheritance advance loan companies, known for really fast trust fund loans, inheritance loan advances, probate cash advance funds, inheritance loans in advance, and loans against inheritance – such as, or perhaps good old, or maybe like the old firm, who’ve been around for years and years, dolling out trust fund cash advances and probate loans like this. I suppose this is just another way (beside selling to a buyer) to utilize real estate in trust, to be inherited by beneficiaries who are flat out broke, to put it bluntly, and need some fast cash. It’s certainly a lot faster than most property sales with a realtor middle man… although that is obviously the eventual goal. Anyway, it’s a good bridge for any trust beneficiary who really needs some fast cash.