A common question that we will get from families is about their second and/or third home such as a vacation home that they own outside of Tennessee. Well, if you own any real estate outside of Tennessee, including any type of real estate interest such as mineral interests, the probate and estate settlement process may end up being very expensive and difficult for your family.
As stated in previous blog articles, anytime some dies owning any assets in their name, the surviving family members will be required to go through the probate court process to have those assets transferred to the surviving family members. This has to occur regardless of whether you have a Will or you do not have a Will when you die. In addition, if you own property in multiple states, your family will be required to open a probate proceeding in each state where you hold property when you die.
For example, if you own a home in Nashville, Tennessee, as well as bank accounts, annuities, investments, and a 401(k) account, but you also own a vacation home in Hilton Head, South Carolina, then your family would be required to start two probate proceedings. First, your family would have to begin a probate proceeding in Tennessee to have your assets transferred to the surviving family members. However, your family would also have to begin a probate proceeding in South Carolina in order to have the vacation home transferred to the surviving family members. This would mean two probate proceedings, more costs, more attorney fees, probably hiring a South Carolina law firm, and more delays and headaches.
However, a way to avoid these headaches, these delays, and these costs for your family when you are gone is to establish a revocable living trust and transfer all of your assets, including the vacation home in South Carolina, into the name of the trust. This way, when you die, and since you have a trust and all of your assets are properly titled in the name of this trust when you die, then your surviving family members will have immediate access to all of the assets in the name of the trust when you are gone. If you have a revocable living trust, and all the assets were properly titled in the name of the trust, then your family will not have to deal with delays, costs, two law firms, and a bunch of other costs in order for your surviving family members to gain access to all of the assets that you worked so hard to accumulate and protect during your lifetime, including title to and ownership of your real estate interests.