Ancillary Probate: What You Need to Know

Many people own property in more than one state—perhaps a vacation home near the beach, or a car titled in a former home state. Without proper estate planning, there may be additional probate proceedings your loved ones have to go through to receive your property. We can help you avoid that!

What Is Ancillary Probate?

In situations in which probate is required, more than one probate proceeding may be necessary if you own property in more than one state. Typically, the law of the state where real estate (and sometimes tangible personal property, i.e., property you can physically touch, such as a piece of jewelry or a painting) is located determines what happens to that property when you pass away.

The primary (sometimes called domiciliary) probate proceeding takes place in the state where a property owner was living when he or she passed away. An ancillary probate proceeding is typically necessary if the person who died also owned real estate in another state. Ancillary probate will also be necessary if you die without a will while owning real estate in another state (unless you have taken one of the steps discussed below to avoid it).

How Can It Be Avoided?

Joint ownership. If you own property jointly with another person, for example, by joint tenancy with right of survivorship, tenancy by the entirety, or community property with a right of survivorship, the property will automatically pass to the joint owner without the need for a probate proceeding.

Transfer-on-death deed. A few states allow you to file a special type of deed that will not become effective until your death. The person(s) named in the deed automatically receives ownership of the real estate only upon your death, and a probate proceeding is avoided. Similarly to joint property, transferring real estate using a transfer-on-death deed provides no protection for the real estate and could make it vulnerable to the new owner’s creditors.

Revocable living trust. If you transfer the title of the property located in the other state into a revocable living trust during your lifetime, you can avoid ancillary probate. This is because the trust, not you, owns the title to the property. If you name yourself as the trustee, you can retain complete control over the property and can even revoke the trust at any time during your lifetime.

We Can Help Make Things Easier for Your Loved Ones

When you pass away, the last thing your grieving family members and loved ones need is a lengthy, expensive, and complicated process. If you own property located in another state, the potential hassles they may face could be multiplied. We can help you create an estate plan that will enable you to have the peace of mind that your family is taken care of. Call us today to set up a meeting so we can discuss an estate plan that meets your needs! (614) 429-1053