White Plains, NY asked in Real Estate Law for South Carolina

Q: Man dies in MI. owns land worth $4,000 in SC does land auto go to spouse or has to file probate. His estate under $20k

A man passed in Michigan where he and his wife were living at that time. He and his wife own land in SC worth $4,000. Does the land automatically go to her without filing probate in MI? His entire estate was less than $20,000.

The wife is trying to sell the land in SC but this issue arose when title report came back. SC attorney says probate has to be filed in MI. Wanted second oppinion - is that the case?

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2 Lawyer Answers

A: This is a question that depends on South Carolina law. A Michigan probate court does not have jurisdiction to decide matters regarding real estate located outside the State of Michigan. Other states could have a statute though that allows South Carolina to recognize ancillary probate proceedings filed in other states.

I would suggest talking to one or more South Carolina probate attorneys to get a second or third opinion.

A: Mr Harris is correct, and indeed, if there is no Michigan property to probate, you may be able to JUST file a SC probate action to deal with the property there despite the residency of the deceased.

Again, get that SC attorney opinion to verify what and how you should proceed. It would be a shame to have to do probate in BOTH states for such a small value asset, but that may be required. That said, it just emphasizes more how important pre-death planning is as listing a survivor or a joint ownership plan could have avoided all of this.

Good luck!

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