One of most people’s goals, as they develop their estate plan, is to prevent their loved ones from having to deal with probate after they’re gone. However, if you live in Florida and own property in another state, they may still have to deal with ancillary probate if you don’t take steps that will let them avoid it.
Many people who retire to Florida still own a condo or other property in the state they left. They may also own a vacation home in another state. Those assets typically need to go through the ancillary probate process, which is an additional proceeding for the property in that state. It’s necessary because a Florida probate court would have no jurisdiction over property in another state.
What is the executor’s role in the ancillary probate process?
The executor of your estate will have to initiate the ancillary probate proceeding, so you need to let your appointee know about your out-of-state property. They may have to travel to that state to deal with it, so the person you appoint as your executor should be able and willing to do that. The good news is that probate courts are often willing to work with the domiciliary (home) state probate court and accept wills and other estate documents as-is.
Can you avoid ancillary probate?
One way to avoid this process is to sell the property you have in other states if you’re not using them. However, if you reside in it occasionally or perhaps rent it out for some extra income, then you can avoid having it go through probate much like you would with your Florida property.
One option is to place the property in a living trust that lets it pass directly to your designated beneficiaries or be sold so that the proceeds can be added to your estate and distributed per your instructions. You can also add another family member to the title, either as a co-owner or someone with the right of survivorship. The alternatives will vary depending on what state the property is in.
It’s crucial that you have experienced legal guidance when developing any estate plan, but certainly, one in which you’re dealing with extensive or widespread assets. This can save your loved ones time, money and stress after you’re gone and help ensure that your wishes are clear.