How do I know which state’s laws to use?
When someone dies intestate (without leaving behind a legally valid will), you must apply state intestacy statutes to determine how the property should be distributed. As different states have different laws, this means you need to know which state law to apply. Generally, for real property, you use the law of the state where the property is physically located, regardless of where the deceased person actually lived. However, for personal property you generally use the law of the state where the deceased person lived and resided.
Obviously, this can sometimes complicate matters, as it means several different state intestacy laws may apply. For example, if Roger resided in Colorado, but also owned real estate in Montana, Montana’s intestacy statutes would dictate what happens to the Montana property, but Colorado’s intestacy statues controls what happens to his personal property (including any personal property that might be located in Montana).