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Did you know ancillary probate, another court process to determine how out-of-state assets such as a boat or a vacation cottage will be distributed, might not always be necessary? Unfortunately, the probate process can be long, expensive, and public. You can ease the property distribution for your heirs if you can avoid ancillary probate through your estate planning.

State regulations differ. This means if you have property outside the state of Florida, it may be best to talk to your estate planning attorney to determine how they apply in the locations involved. For example, in your second or third state, the personal representative may face different rules and regulations in an ancillary probate process that are very different from Florida. When you can plan ahead to avoid these complications through your estate planning, it can help your family at a time that will already be stressful.  

If you plan ahead and take measures to transfer ownership before you die, you may reduce the chances your estate will need to go through ancillary probate.  If ancillary probate is required, however, look for potential alternatives. For instance, if it’s possible, you could consider small estate proceedings if the property isn’t too valuable. Other options can include:

  • Funding the property into a trust agreement (whether or not a will already exists)
  • A transfer-on-death deed
  • Adding a co-owner to the title or joint tenancy with the right of survivorship
  • Selling or transferring the property before death

Bear in mind each of these alternatives may have ramifications that are best discussed with your attorney.

It’s understandable that you would want to make things simpler for your heirs after you pass away, and we encourage you to consider planning forward for a time when you are no longer here. It’s best to do this ahead of time because if you pass away without a will, or intestate, the courts may decide who gets your property and how they will divide it according to state law.  

It is never too early to plan. If you’re not sure what to do about your own out-of-state property, and have any questions, contact us to schedule a meeting. We’ll be happy to listen to your concerns in your meeting and help you take this important step to plan forward.