Cross Border Estate Inheritance

Spring 2010 CSANews Issue 74  |  Posted date : May 27, 2010.Back to list

A few months ago, my brother passed away. Although his will, drawn up in Ontario, clearly specifies that my husband and I are the beneficiaries of his entire estate - including his portion of a condominium in Florida which we three jointly owned - friends have told us that his will is not going to be sufficient for us to wholly acquire the property because the deed (which was drawn up by the seller's lawyer in Chicago) does not include the provision "with right of survivorship."

We would appreciate any information or suggestions that CSA might have before we launch into potentially expensive legal action, including whether there are lawyers who are licensed to practice in both Ontario and Florida.

Has CSA ever heard of a similar issue?


Response:
Ed: We asked CSA Legal Counsel Wallace Weylie to assist with this question:

In order for the survivors of the deceased to have acquired title to the property without going through probate in Florida, the title to the property would have had to have been held by the three of them as "joint tenancy with right of survivorship." As it would appear that the title was simply in the three names, the manner of holding title is called "tenancy in common," the effect of which is that each person holds a 1/3 interest in the property.

Upon the death of the brother, his share would be part of his estate, and would be transferred (in this case) in accordance with the provisions of his will. However, in Florida, for that to be effective, there will have to be a probate procedure in Florida to empower the executors of the will to convey title to the 1/3 as provided in the will.