Estate planning can get complicated when dealing with more than one home in differing states. And the patriarch or matriarch in the family who owns those homes might unexpectedly pass away before any estate planning could be done. When that happens, an estate will end up in probate, and whoever the executor is will deal with primary probate state laws for things at home. But how will they deal with that above property in other states?
While each state law related to probate is going to be different, there’s some things you can do that make the process somewhat easier.
Dealing with Ancillary Probate
Ancillary probate is the official term for dealing with probate in multiple states at once. The basic complication is that because of differing state laws regarding probate, you might not have complete control over dealing with the property in another state. Sometimes a state will require that the personal representative be a native of the state in question rather than allowing the same representative to cross state lines.
When the above scenario happens and no other representative is available, a lawyer will need to be hired in that other state in order to deal with the issue. Nolo points out that if you already have a will, most states will look at it as a foreign will and accept it within short order. It shows the importance of putting a will together as soon as possible if a family member owns homes in various states.
You can also avoid ancillary probate completely if your family member is willing to own those other homes as a joint tenancy. The home can also automatically go to heirs through a revocable living trust or transfer-on-death deed.
Some States Are Making Ancillary Probate Easier
While many states keep a careful legal eye on those coming in from another state to claim property, they’re starting to make ancillary probate a slightly lesser headache. Depending on the state’s probate laws, you can simply take the legal paperwork from your initial state and send copies to the courts of other states. The states that accept those will consider it to be a foreign executor situation where the legality of the papers is enough to show it’s legitimate.
Even if the word “foreign” sounds like you’re an illegal alien coming in to claim family property, be sure to check state laws to see if they allow copies. Otherwise, you could be in for a lengthy legal process in other states that could cost the family estate a huge sum.