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When and why is ancillary probate needed?

On Behalf of | Dec 27, 2023 | Probate

Probate is the legal process of administering someone’s estate after their passing, ensuring that their debts are paid and their assets are distributed according to both the law and their will.

While probate proceedings typically occur in the deceased’s state of residence, a second – or “ancillary” – probate process is sometimes necessary. This generally occurs when the deceased had assets titled in their name in more than one state.

Why is ancillary probate necessary?

Ancillary probate ensures that the transfer of any property from the deceased to their beneficiaries or heirs is properly done, in compliance with the laws of the specific state where the assets are located. It also protects any creditor claims that may be made against the deceased’s out-of-state assets.

When is ancillary probate needed? Here are some examples:

  • Second homes: A lot of people have vacation homes, winter residences or hunting cabins in different states. For example, a New York resident may have a condo in Florida that they only use three months of the year, but that would likely require an additional probate process.
  • Multi-state business interests: Some people have diverse investments and business interests all around the country. Their ownership interests may have to be addressed in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Investment properties: Real estate is a popular investment, and landlords often let management companies handle the details because they live at a distance. If a decedent owned an apartment complex in another state, ancillary probate would probably be needed.

There are ways to avoid ancillary probate, sometimes using a trust or transfer-on-death deeds. If you’re planning ahead and trying to make things easier for the loved ones you leave behind, legal guidance can help.