Did you know that the laws of the state where real estate or tangible personal property is physically located will govern what happens to out of state property after you die? Most people assume the laws of the state where you live at the time of your death dictate the administration of your estate, but this is not the case. In fact, property located within another state is subjected to a secondary probate process called ancillary probate that takes place in that state.
Ancillary probate is the probate of property in a state other than the state where you live. If, at the time of your death, you own real estate or other property in your name alone, a probate will be necessary in each state where the property is owned and/or located. This is necessary to transfer the ownership of the property and clear the title, as well as advise creditors that may be located in the state.
One of the biggest drawbacks of ancillary probate is the added cost of having to administer more than one probate estate, including multiple court fees and accounting fees if the estate is extensive. Another drawback of ancillary probate can occur if a person dies without a valid Will. Because the intestacy laws, the laws which dictate the distribution of property for a deceased with no will, differ from state to state, it is possible that the heirs of an intestate estate could be different in the state of the primary probate proceeding versus the state of the ancillary probate proceeding.
The best way to minimize the impact of Probate is to work with an estate planning attorney. Spending money today to establish a valid Will, Trust, or other estate planning documents, as well as properly titling assets, can save your estate substantially when it is time for probate proceedings.