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What is ancillary probate?

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2024 | Estate Administration & Probate |

Ancillary probate is a process that estate administrators must manage when a deceased person owns property in a state other than the one where they resided at the time of their death. This secondary probate proceeding is necessary to manage and distribute the out-of-state property according to the deceased’s will, or state laws if there is no will.

When an individual passes away, their estate must go through probate in their home state, which is known as the domiciliary probate. However, if they own real estate, mineral rights or other tangible property in another state, ancillary probate is required to address these assets. This process helps to ensure that the property located in the non-domiciliary state is appropriately managed and transferred to the deceased’s rightful heirs or beneficiaries.

Why is ancillary probate sometimes necessary? 

Each state has its own probate laws and procedures. The probate court in the state where the property is located has jurisdiction over the assets within its borders. As the state where the deceased died is not responsible for executing the legal estate administration processes mandated by another state, a separate probate process is necessary in some cases. For example, to legally transfer the title of real estate or other tangible property, the ancillary probate process must be completed in the state where the property is located.

The ancillary probate process typically involves several steps, similar to the primary probate process. To start, the executor or personal representative of an estate files a petition for ancillary probate in the county where the out-of-state property is located. This may involve submitting authenticated copies of the will (if one exists) and the domiciliary probate court’s documents. The ancillary probate court may appoint the same executor named in the domiciliary probate, or it may require a local representative to be appointed.

Once creditors and interested parties are notified, debts and taxes are paid and all other aspects of the process are settled, the remaining assets – or the remainder value of assets that have been sold – can be passed to heirs or beneficiaries. This process can be confusing, but local legal guidance can clarify matters.