If I Were to Die Today, Where Would My Executor Probate My Estate?
*Please note this post applies specifically to estate administration in probate court and not to trust administration*
Normally the answer to where your executor would probate your estate is a simple one: your executor would probate your estate in the state and county in which you were a resident of at the time of your passing. This is the bright-line rule. For instance, Daniel died a resident of Greene County, Ohio as indicated on his death certificate. If Daniel had assets in his individual name and not in the name of a trust, with no beneficiary/payable on death (POD)/transfer on death (TOD) designations, then those assets would have to go to through probate court before they can be transferred to his beneficiaries/heirs. Daniel’s executor, if he had a will, or his administrator, if he did not have a will, would open his estate in the Greene County Probate Court.
The answer to the post title gets trickier when a person dies a resident of one state, but owns property in another. For instance, let’s again assume that Daniel died a resident of Greene County, Ohio. In addition to a car and a checking account, Daniel also owned a condo in Palm Beach County, Florida. All three assets will need to go through probate as they are titled in Daniel’s individual name. But where should Daniel’s estate be probated? If we go by the bright-line rule as stated in the first paragraph, Daniel’s estate would be probated in Greene County, Ohio. This is partially correct. The car and the checking account would go through probate in Greene County, Ohio, however, the condo in Palm Beach County, Florida, would not. This is simply because Ohio courts do not have jurisdiction over out of state property. How does Daniel’s executor or administrator get the condo transferred to Daniel’s beneficiaries/heirs? He/she has to initially open up Daniel’s estate in Greene County, Ohio. After he/she has been officially appointed as executor/administrator by the Greene County Probate Court, he/she needs to open an ancillary estate in Palm Beach County, Florida.
This post is especially important for people that have multiple properties in states in which they are not residents. If the properties are solely in an individual’s name, and not in a trust or a company name, then they will go through probate in each state. Attorney Gary is licensed to practice in Florida and Ohio and can help you with all of your probate, estate planning and real estate needs in both states.