You’ve been pretty mobile throughout your entire life, and you have real estate and other assets in several different states — a second home, some investment property and maybe partial ownership in a business.
All of that diversification is wonderful, but it can be a nightmare for your heirs. When someone dies and leaves behind tangible property like real estate in a different state, an ancillary probate process is required.
What is ancillary probate?
Every state has its own laws when it comes to how estates are handled, so each state has its own probate process. When you die, you may expect your estate to go through the probate process where you live. That’s called the primary probate. Ancillary probate is opened at the same time in each additional state where you have hard assets.
What can you do to eliminate the need for it?
Naturally, ancillary probate increases the expenses for your estate via fees and taxes, and it also slows down the entire process for your heirs.
If you want your state to avoid the ancillary probate process, you have several potential options:
- Transfer-on-death deeds: These are only allowed in some states, but they can make it possible for your real estate to automatically transfer to your chosen beneficiary without going through probate.
- Trusts: If you put your out-of-state assets in the right kind of trust prior to your death, they may never go through probate at all. (This is also something you can use with your local assets.)
- Sell the assets: If you no longer have any emotional attachment to the out-of-state assets, you may want to simply sell them and leave the money to your heirs in your will.
There may be other options, too, that you can explore through thorough estate planning. The more you know about your choices, the easier it may be to plan for the future.