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Can Wills Written in New Jersey Affect How Property in Other States Are Sold?

When a loved one dies, the division of most assets among beneficiaries can be a straightforward process, mainly when a well-prepared will is in place. However, if the deceased happened to be the sole owner of real estate in another state, liquidation of the property may become a bit more complicated.

In these instances, an additional process known as ancillary probate may be required before the property can be sold.

What is Ancillary Probate?

Typically, formal probate court proceedings occur in the deceased’s state of residence. The executor or administrator of the estate will follow the direction of the court as established by the will and ensure all assets are distributed appropriately.

ancillary probate

However, if the deceased was a permanent resident of New Jersey, for example, and owned real estate in Maine, the executor may also need to initiate a second or ancillary probate process in Maine to pass ownership of the property onto any designated beneficiaries.  

The reason for this second probate proceeding is that real estate law is governed by the state in which the property is located, not where the owner has resided.

If the deceased solely owned several properties throughout the country, the executor may need to hire a lawyer in each state to handle the additional ancillary probate cases.

However, once the primary will in the state of residence has been accepted, ancillary wills will usually be accepted in the other states, as well.

Executorship for Ancillary Wills

In some instances, the executor can file to be recognized as the executor in the second state by submitting the official documents from the deceased’s state of residence.

Once officially designated executor by the state where the real estate is located, the executor can transfer or sell the property according to the wishes of the deceased.

Can There Be an Inheritance Tax?

As representative or executor of the estate, you should consult the estate lawyer about whether a tax liability will be attached to the liquidation of the property.

Avoiding Ancillary Probate in the Planning Process

During your estate planning sessions with a qualified estate planning lawyer, you can simplify the process without having to undergo multiple probate processes. Three methods of avoiding ancillary probate are:

  • Adding another owner to the property to create a joint tenancy or community property with the right of survivorship
  • Establishing a revocable living trust while living

Your estate lawyer will explain each of these options to help you choose the strategy that works best for your situation.

Understanding the Probate Laws in New Jersey  

Whether you are engaged in planning your estate or have been designated an executor, you should consult with a trusted and experienced estate planning lawyer to review all issues regarding the distribution of the estate.

You can avoid confusion and considerable expense by preparing in advance.

If you are the sole owner of real estate situated in another state, your estate lawyer can eliminate confusion and ensure proper handling of the estate.

Located in Westfield, New Jersey, the Law Office of Nicholas A. Giuditta III offers three decades of experience in managing all details of probate and the creation of a perfect will to ensure your assets will be distributed according to your wishes.

To discuss your estate plan, trust, will, or powers of attorney, contact the office of Nicholas Giuditta, Elder Law, and Estate Planner for your in-person, confidential consultation at 1-908-232-0099.