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

1 answer | Last updated: Jan 22, 2014
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.