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Fairfax, VA Probate Blog

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How real and personal property is distributed under Intestacy laws?

As it relates to probate & estate administration, generally real property is governed by the laws of the state where the respective parcel has situs and personal property is governed by the laws of the decedent’s domicile.  

Forbes posted an article titled 5 Estate Planning Tips. The author, while doing a service to the general public, had made an inaccurate statement. The author declared that "If you fail to prepare a will, the laws that govern your domicile determines who inherits your assets". 

 

Analysis

As it relates to estate planning, real property is governed by the laws of the state where the respective parcel has situs and personal property is governed by the laws of the decedent’s domicile.  

An intestate decedent domiciled in State A may have his personal property distributed according to State A intestacy laws because of the decedent's domicile. However, the decedent's real estate may be distributed according to the intestate laws where the real estate is located (situs). State A real estate will be governed according to State A laws because of the state's jurisdiction over the real property within its jurisdiction. Consequently, if the decedent had real property in State B, State C, & State D, each parcel may likely be governed by the intestate laws of the state for which each respective parcel is located.    

A more accurate statement would be the following:

"If you fail to prepare a will, your personal property maybe distributed according to the laws of your domicile whereas your real property maybe distributed according to the laws of the state where the real property is located." 




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