Probate is the court process by which an estate is settled after a death. The probate process consists of validating the value of all assets, paying debts, bills or taxes owed by the estate, and finally giving beneficiaries their inheritance from the estate.
Probate may add to a very stressful time for family members. This process may take months and may require a large amount of money for attorneys’ fees, court fees, and executor fees. It seems like burdensome for someone to have to face after the death of a loved one. But there could be something worse, Ancillary Probate.
Ancillary Probate is the process by which an estate is settled in more than one state. When you own real estate in multiple states, your estate must be settled according to the laws where each piece of property lies.
This more complicated version of probate could require more time in court and more money. Two or more states will have to work to reconcile their laws to settle the estate. The worst case for ancillary probate is when there is no Last Will and Testament. When this happens, the estate may take years to settle.
So, you may be wondering how to avoid such a mess and still keep your out-of-state property. For starters, you should have a solid, updated Last Will and Testament. This will help probate move smoothly for your heirs. Your attorney, or an attorney in the state where your second property is located, may be able to help you determine what laws will affect your estate. You may also want to be certain your property is titled in both spouses’ names.
One other popular option is a Revocable Living Trust. This allows you to move all of your holdings into a trust, retain total control of those holdings and have them pass easily to beneficiaries. Having a Living Trust often allows estates to settle easily with little or no probate time. Avoiding probate or ancillary probate can be a blessing for family members in their time of grief.