The probate process can be stressful and time-consuming without the proper plan in place. The probate process can become even more stressful and time-consuming if the decedent owned property in multiple states, requiring an ancillary probate to secure the distribution of such property to their designated inheritors. Ancillary probate proceedings can often be intricate because they occur in state’s outside the decedent’s domicile and are subject to the inheritance laws of the state where the property is held. The challenges that come with ancillary probate can be overcome, however, with proper planning and knowledge of what the proceedings will entail. Enlisting the services of an experienced estate planning attorney like Inna Fershteyn will ensure that you have a proper estate plan in place in the event of your death and have created a comprehensive plan for the probate proceedings that your estate will have to go through.
Ancillary Probate Overview
The ancillary probate process is directly related to the probate process that must occur in the county of the decedent’s domicile. The probate process in the county of one’s residence will, among other things, authenticate the last will and testament of the decedent and grant letters of administration to the executor of the decedent’s estate. The ancillary probate process occurs in each state outside of a decedent’s residence where the decedent owned property. Property that must go through the ancillary probate procedure includes: real estate, bank accounts, personal property such as cars or boats registered in a state outside the decedent’s residence, investments such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, and any business or business interest owned by the decedent. Ancillary probate proceedings occur alongside probate proceedings in the county of residence and, in most circumstances, courts where an ancillary probate proceeding is taking place will accept a last will and testament that has been approved by a probate court.
Five Steps You Must Take in Planning for Ancillary Probate
To best plan for an ancillary probate proceedings, here are five steps that you can take:
1. Identify all the state’s where the decedent owned property and create an inventory of the property.
2. Collect all important documents relating to the property in the state’s outside the decedent’s domicile, which may include:
- Copies of deeds.
- Copies of tax documents.
- An inventory of all property in the state where the ancillary probate proceeding will occur.
3. Pay any debts or creditors for the property.
4. Resolve any ownership disputes that may have risen over each property,
5. Ensure that upon the decedent’s death, their last will and testament is easily accessible and the probate and ancillary probate processes are initiated as soon as possible. To quicken this process, ensure that the Petition to Probate is filled as soon as possible and Letters of Administration are sent to all the ancillary probate courts as soon as they are received.
Steps You Can Take To Avoid Ancillary Probate
There are several steps you can take to avoid the ancillary probate process entirely:
- Ensure that any property you own outside of your state of residence is jointly owned. If it is not already, retitle it so that it passes to your designated successor immediately upon your death.
- Transfer your property to a revocable or irrevocable living trust.
- If the state allows it, file a transfer-upon-death deed for your property.
- Gift the property to an inheritor or beneficiary.
The probate process is a difficult and tedious process for the family of a decedent to go through, and the process can be greatly complicated by ancillary probate proceedings that must occur in all states where a decedent owned property. Understanding the ancillary probate process and planning to initiate such proceedings upon the death of a loved one are key steps that you can take to shorten the process of asset distribution. Following the five step guide will ensure that the process of ancillary probate will go through as smoothly as possible, while the steps to avoid ancillary probate will help you avoid the process altogether. To ensure that all probate proceedings run smoothly and assets are distributed according to your wishes as quickly as possible, call the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at (718) 333-2394 to schedule a consultation.