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What Is Ancillary Probate?

By March 23, 2024 March 25th, 2024 No Comments

When it comes to managing and finalizing the estate of a loved one, the process can be both legally complex and emotionally challenging. This is particularly true when assets are scattered across state lines. The feelings of grief and loss only get worse when family members are presented with a bunch of legal red tape and obligations immediately following the death of their loved one.

At Waldron Law Offices, Ltd., in Wayzata, MN, we approach these sensitive situations with compassion and care. Our goal is to alleviate the burden of the legal process during your difficult time so you can focus on honoring the wishes of the person you loved.

To that end, we’ve created this guide to explain what happens when assets in an estate are scattered across multiple states. We’ll explain the ancillary probate process and answer the most common questions we hear from our clients. If you need help with ancillary probate or estate planning in the Twin Cities metro area, call the probate lawyer Wayzata trusts for professionalism and care. Call Waldron Law Offices, Ltd.

What Is Ancillary Probate?

Ancillary probate is another form of probate that is only required when a deceased person owns property or assets in a different state. It runs alongside the usual probate process, and it’s used to legally transfer their out-of-state property to their beneficiaries in Minnesota. This may be done to honor the deceased’s wishes or because the state requires these assets to be sold to pay off any remaining debts. Either way, ancillary probate requires additional time and energy, and it can add complications to what is already a lengthy ordeal.

When is Ancillary Probate Necessary?

Ancillary probate becomes necessary when a person owns real estate or other significant property in multiple legal jurisdictions. For example, if someone living in Wayzata had a vacation home in Florida, their estate would go through probate in Minnesota and ancillary probate in Florida. If the Wayzata resident owned a business in Texas and an art collection in California, ancillary probate would need to take place in each of these states before the property could be transferred to family members or other beneficiaries.

The entire process involves collecting and verifying all the deceased’s assets, paying off their remaining debts to creditors, and then distributing what remains according to the instructions in the will. If the deceased person was the head of their household, their family may need to wait months or even years to receive the assets they need to get by.

Like all forms of probate, it can be avoided by careful estate planning that puts your family first. You can protect your family from these legal worries by talking with an experienced Minnesota probate lawyer today.

How Long Does Ancillary Probate Take?

The usual probate process is already lengthy, and each time ancillary probate is needed, it takes longer. Tax laws and procedures vary from state to state, so you’re never sure how long the process will take in another jurisdiction. Generally, it takes several months to over a year to complete, but the process could take years if there are disputes among beneficiaries or complications with the estate’s assets.

Is Ancillary Probate Always Necessary for Out-of-State Property?

Not always. Ancillary probate is only concerned with “significant” assets like real estate, businesses, or rental properties. Expensive personal items like art collections and jewelry may be considered significant assets, but you shouldn’t have trouble collecting everyday objects or sentimental heirlooms from the deceased’s out-of-state property. Inexpensive personal items will be considered in estate planning, but they can usually avoid ancillary probate.

Ancillary probate can even be avoided on significant assets using estate planning tools such as living trusts or joint ownership with a rights of survivorship clause. These methods avoid all forms of probate and allow important assets to be transferred immediately upon the owner’s death. Consulting with our Wayzata estate planning attorney can help determine the strategy that works best for you. We can make the process easier if your loved one has passed, and we can safeguard the people you leave behind so they never face similar legal hurdles.

How Do I Avoid Ancillary Probate?

Several strategies can simplify or entirely bypass the ancillary probate process. Placing property in a revocable living trust, for example, allows for the direct transfer of assets to a beneficiary without the need for probate across multiple states. Living trusts work similarly to wills, but they provide more control over how assets are distributed. For example, they can be set up by responsible parents to ensure a young child gains ownership of the account only after they turn 18.

Joint ownership can avoid probate by establishing transfer-on-death (TOD) arrangements for real estate or bank accounts. Most of the time, these clauses are automatically included in contracts when significant assets are purchased. However, you’ll want a probate attorney to go over these contracts before you add any assets to a will or trust. We can make sure your assets are managed according to your wishes in case a day comes when you’re unable to manage them yourself.

Can the Same Executor Handle Both Primary and Ancillary Probate?

Yes, the same executor or personal representative can handle both primary and ancillary probate proceedings. However, some states may require you to designate a local representative for ancillary probate. Coordination between the two jurisdictions is important for a smooth process, and our Twin Cities probate attorney in Wayzata can handle the entire process or communicate with the out-of-state representative on your behalf.

How Can Waldron Law Offices, Ltd. Help with Estate Planning and Probate?

Handing red tape and legal obligations after a loved one passes can make the feelings of loss and grief even worse. Ancillary probate can be complicated and time-consuming, but it can also be handled by professionals or avoided altogether. Our team at Waldron Law Offices, Ltd. specializes in estate planning and probate law in Wayzata, and we offer expert guidance when you need it most. If you need help with probate because a loved one has passed, or you’d like to learn how to use these tools for your own estate planning needs, call our office today at (952) 471-0940.

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