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What personal representatives should know about ancillary probate

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2024 | Probate And Estate Law

If you’re the personal representative (commonly known as executor) of a loved one’s estate, you are fortunate if they did some sound estate planning to ease the probate process or avoid it altogether. Putting larger assets in a living trust, for example, prevents them from having to go through probate and lets them pass directly to the designated beneficiaries. Naming a co-owner of a property or having a payable-on-death designation are also examples of options to bypass probate.

Too often, however, people don’t take these steps with out-of-state property. That means the personal representative may have to deal with ancillary probate. What is ancillary probate?

This refers to probate that’s necessary in a state other than the decedent’s home state because that’s where the property is located. In Florida especially, many residents who retire to the state still have a home in their former home state. Whether they use it as a rental property or lakeside cabin for the summer months, they might plan to keep the property indefinitely. Other examples of out-of-state property include a boat, car, or bank account.

What to do if you find out about out-of-state property

As a personal representative, if you discover property that needs to go through ancillary probate, you’ll need to initiate that proceeding. You’ll likely have to travel to the location of the property (and the other probate court). 

Generally, if a Florida probate court has accepted the decedent’s will and other estate documents, the other state’s probate court will do so as well. Therefore, ancillary probate generally will proceed without too many complications.

If you’re a personal representative facing the ancillary probate process – or any unforeseen or complex situation – as you administer someone’s estate, it is always smart to seek legal guidance. This can save you unnecessary time, expense and stress.