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What can you expect during an ancillary probate in Florida?

On Behalf of | May 30, 2023 | Estate Administration

If a testator had real estate in another state that they passed on to a beneficiary through their will, then it will go through ancillary probate. Each state has its own process for handling real estate holdings after the owner’s death. Florida courts only have authority over real estate that’s in Florida. Checking the other state’s laws can help you understand what to expect when the time comes.

Starting the ancillary probate process

The executor usually has to petition the local court where the property is to start the probate process for it. They could contact the local court or judge to request an ancillary estate administration.

Verifying the will and the executor

Upon approval of the will in the testator’s home state, other probate courts typically believe the decision and don’t need to reverify the will’s legitimacy. A common term that courts use for a will that another state verified is “foreign will.” Likewise, the executor doesn’t need to receive approval again from each state beyond the testator’s home state. Other states may refer to them as the “foreign executor” or “foreign personal representative.”

How to avoid an ancillary probate

Testators could deposit real estate holdings in a trust to avoid the ancillary probate process. This would save time and money for the beneficiaries.

Other strategies include joint ownership and transfer-on-death (TOD) deeds. You could choose to jointly own a property with your chosen beneficiary. It would automatically become theirs after your death. Some states allow transfer-on-death deeds for owners who live in another state. With a TOD deed, the property would automatically transfer to your chosen beneficiary after your death.

The ancillary probate process isn’t as difficult as some fear it will be. However, it does take more time and cost more money to go through. Executors need to file the correct forms in each state to start the process of transferring the real estate to its intended beneficiary.