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What is Ancillary Probate?

Problems with Owning Real Estate and Tangible Property Outside of Your State


Owning real estate or tangible personal property in several different states will pose a unique challenge when planning your estate. This is because the laws of the state where the real estate or tangible personal property is physically located will govern what will happen to the out of state property after you die, not the laws of the state where you live at the time of your death. This, in turn, will lead to ancillary probate.

What is Ancillary Probate?

Ancillary probate refers to a probate proceeding that is required in addition to the primary probate proceeding that will take place in your home state. Typically ancillary probate will be necessary because you own a piece of real estate that is located outside of your home state, although it could apply to tangible personal property, such as a car, boat, or airplane, that is registered and titled outside of your home state, or livestock or oil, gas, or mineral rights that are attached to real estate located outside of your home state.

Drawbacks of Ancillary Probate

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, accounting fees, and attorneys' fees.

Another drawback of ancillary probate can occur with an intestate estate, which is the estate of a person who dies without a valid Last Will and Testament. Because the intestacy laws of all 50 states and the District of Columbia are different, 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.

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