Crafting Your Will with Cross-Border Considerations: A Californian’s Guide to Out-of-State Property Estate Planning

Crafting Your Will with Cross-Border Considerations: A Californian’s Guide to Out-of-State Property Estate Planning

Cross-border Property Estate Planning

For Californians who own property in other states, crafting a will that effectively manages these assets can be complex. Different states have varying laws regarding estate planning and real estate, which can complicate ensuring your property is distributed according to your wishes. This article provides essential tips for cross-border estate planning for Californians to help navigate these complexities and ensure their out-of-state property is handled appropriately in their will.

Understanding the Legal Landscape For Cross-Border Estate Planning for Californians

Each state in the U.S. has laws governing property disposition upon death. This includes differences in probate processes, estate taxes, and the recognition of trusts and wills. For instance, some states may require a separate probate proceeding for real estate located within their jurisdiction, known as ancillary probate.

Strategies for Managing Out-of-State Property

Creating a Revocable Living Trust

One effective way to manage out-of-state property is to place it in a revocable living trust. This strategy can help avoid ancillary probate because the trust owns the property, not you personally, at your death. Trusts are generally recognized across state lines, which can streamline the management and distribution of your assets.

Utilizing a Transfer-on-Death Deed

Some states allow a transfer-on-death (TOD) deed for real estate. This tool lets the property pass directly to a designated beneficiary upon death, bypassing the probate process. If the state where your property is located permits TOD deeds, this can be a straightforward way to transfer real estate without the complexities of probate.

Legal and Tax Considerations

When planning for out-of-state property, it’s also essential to consider the potential tax implications. Some states impose estate or inheritance taxes that could affect the property’s value transferred to your heirs. Consulting with a tax professional who understands the laws in California and the state where your property is located is essential to minimize the tax burden on your estate. You should also consult with a lawyer in that state to ensure you follow the succession laws of that state.

Practical Tips for Estate Planning for Californians

  1. Consult with an Estate Planning Professional: Work with a professional with interstate estate planning experience. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation and help you navigate the laws of different states.
  2. Regularly Review and Update Your Estate Plan: As laws change, so should your estate plan. This is particularly important if you acquire property in another state or if significant changes in the law could impact your estate.
  3. Consider the Location of Your Property: Be aware of the specific laws and regulations of the state where each property is located. This can influence decisions about the best tools and strategies for including these properties in your estate plan.
  4. Communicate with Your Heirs: Make sure your heirs know the location and management plans for out-of-state properties. This can help prevent confusion and ensure a smoother transition when the time comes.


Managing out-of-state property in California requires careful consideration of legal and tax issues. By utilizing strategies such as trusts, TOD deeds, or separate wills, and by seeking the advice of experienced professionals, you can ensure that your real estate holdings are effectively managed and distributed according to your wishes. This proactive approach simplifies the estate settlement process and provides peace of mind, knowing that all your properties are taken care of. Ready to navigate the complexities of estate planning? Contact us at Guideway for more information.

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