Ancillary Probate Administration

Losing a loved one is challenging and highly emotional. If you’re charged with handling your loved one’s estate, things become more complicated. Adding to this complexity is figuring out what to do when this loved one owned property in multiple states. When a loved one dies with probatable assets in a different state than their primary residence, additional proceedings are necessary. This is called ancillary probate. Ancillary probate is common in Florida, as many people reside in other states but own secondary properties and timeshares here. An estate’s personal representative is often tasked with ensuring ancillary probate is performed accurately and that assets are distributed to the intended beneficiaries. Our team at McGee Law can help you navigate ancillary probate proceedings for a deceased person (decedent) who owned property in Volusia County, Flagler County, and beyond.

Understanding Ancillary Probate

When someone who owned property in a different state than their primary residence passes away, additional probate proceedings are needed wherever these assets were located. Ancillary probate ensures beneficiaries receive the assets as stated in the decedent’s will according to that state’s particular requirements. 

Ancillary Probate Requirements

According to Florida Statute 734.102, ancillary probate is necessary when a nonresident passes away with assets or debts in Florida. This secondary probate process facilitates the transfer of ownership of the Florida-based assets to the beneficiaries listed in the decedent’s will or by Florida’s intestate laws (if there isn’t a will). Ancillary probate happens before the primary probate proceedings in the decedent’s state of residence are finalized.

How to File for Ancillary Probate

A qualified personal representative must be appointed to oversee the proceedings in Florida. If the will doesn’t name a personal representative for ancillary probate or appoint a valid one according to Florida law, the majority interest holder in the Florida property may choose a representative. Sometimes, the attorney overseeing the ancillary probate proceedings may act as the personal representative, especially if the personal representative lives in another state. Ancillary probate proceedings begin by petitioning the probate court where the assets are located.  

The Ancillary Probate Process

The ancillary probate process mirrors regular probate proceedings for Florida estates. It begins with filing a petition that includes the decedent’s will, death certificate, and documentation of Florida property ownership. Letters of administration are then issued, and a personal representative is appointed. The personal representative notifies beneficiaries of the probate proceedings. They also inform potential creditors of the estate’s status, which allows them to file claims for outstanding debts against the estate. The assets are valued and inventoried. Then, any legitimate creditor claims are paid from the value of these assets. Once creditor claims are resolved, the remaining assets are transferred to the personal representative for distribution according to the decedent’s will or intestate laws. 

Ancillary probate can take anywhere from six months to one year to complete. Estates valued at $50,000 or less may be able to file for summary administration, which typically takes less time than formal probate.

Can You Avoid Ancillary Probate? 

Ancillary probate can be avoided by using strategic estate planning tools, such as transferring property into a revocable living trust, Lady Bird deeds, owning property with joint ownership rights, or making beneficiary designations for assets located in Florida. 

Navigate Ancillary Probate Administration with McGee Law, PLLC

Ancillary probate proceedings can be complex, especially for non-Florida residents managing property in the state. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney ensures smooth and prompt ancillary probate proceedings. At McGee Law, we provide guidance and support through the ancillary probate process. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation, or call our Palm Coast office at 386-320-7300 to ensure your loved one’s property in Florida is handled with care and respect. 

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