The Two-Home, Two-State Family and Your Estate Plan
People who own homes in more than one state face more legal issues. Dual residency will even affect how your estate is settled. How will being a two-home, two-state family affect your estate planning?
Residency is usually defined as “where a person lives.” But where someone maintains a “permanent home and substantial connection” is their domicile. Domicile and residency requirements can make a difference on where you are taxed or where you can vote, among other things.
You cannot legally be the resident of more than one state, but criteria for determining your residency varies. For example, qualifying as a resident hunter is different than qualifying as an in-state college student. The Arizona Revised Statutes defines a number of requirements someone must meet to be considered a resident. And according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, domicile and residency mean the same thing.
So how in the world can you decide where you live for the purposes of estate planning and probate?
Let’s say you meet the requirements to be an Arizona resident. Arizona estate and probate laws likely differ from the state where your other home is located. When you meet with your estate planning attorney, be ready to show evidence of Arizona residency, like a driver’s license or voter registration card. Also let your attorney know about property you own in other states.
At some point, it will be time to administer your estate.
A probate court only has jurisdiction over property in its own state. Owning property in more than one state, then, can lead to multiple probate proceedings before multiple courts. This could lead to significant legal fees, leaving your beneficiaries with far less than you intended. With the right estate planning strategies, you prevent this from happening.
One option is to use a revocable trust.
This trust, also called a living trust, allows you to move assets to a trust, including property located in different states into the name of one trust. You control the assets while you are able. After your death, the successor trustee or trustees will distribute the assets according to the trust document without having to go through probate in either state.
Owning multiple homes in multiple states can lead to some tricky legal situations. There are other options and strategies you can use to settling your estate as easy as possible for your family. Getting the right legal advice can make all the difference.
Francisco Sirvent has the know-how to analyze your current situation and help you make thoughtful decisions about your estate. Call us at (480) 418-8448 to set up an appointment. Although located in Chandler, we also work with clients in the surrounding communities like Sun Lakes, Gilbert, Mesa, and Tempe.