Ancillary probate and out-of-state assets

Eric’s dad, Richard, had enjoyed the benefits of a great career as an orthopedic surgeon. He was proud of his spacious home in Chesterfield, his small but impressive collection of sports cars, and his vacation home in Montana. His investments included mineral rights in Texas and Utah.

When he passed, Richard left a great legacy. Because there were assets in several states, he also left quite a puzzle. Eric quickly became familiar with the term ancillary probate.

What is ancillary probate, and why is it a challenge?

To define it, ancillary probate is a probate court proceeding conducted in a different state from the one the deceased person resided in at the time of death. Usually, ancillary probate is necessary if the deceased person owned real estate in another state.

Because Richard lived in St. Louis, his primary estate would be governed by the laws of Missouri. The disposition of his assets in Montana, Texas, and Utah would be governed by laws in those respective states, using ancillary probate.

Here’s an example of how this could play out. If there is no will, one state might view the rightful heirs much differently than another state. Imagine how messy that can get.

Working through probate in your home state requires a good deal of effort and expense. Adding other states only makes it more complicated and expensive. The effort and cost relate to court fees, attorney fees, and accounting expenses.

It quickly adds up. So does the frustration. Probate has to be established in each state, with letters of authorization being issued. It’s a long, complicated process. As an attorney, I’m happy to help people like Eric. It would have been far better, though, if Richard had completed an estate plan.

How to avoid the trouble and expense of ancillary probate

Some states make the process easier for out-of-state administrators. Several states, for example, recognize special beneficiary deeds. In those states, property of a deceased person can be transferred without going through the trouble of probate. Not every state is so gracious.

The best way to avoid the trouble and expense of probate, whether standard or ancillary, is through proper estate planning. In particular, property in a living trust is shielded from probate. Establishing the trust must be followed by placing all property within that trust. There are other options, but the particulars are better covered in other articles. Better still, consult with a proper estate planning attorney.

What are your estate goals?

Quinn Estate & Elder Law takes a holistic approach to helping people accomplish their estate goals. Are you confident that everything is in order? Want to know more? Call us today for a FREE ANALYSIS 636-428-3344