Today, people move around much more often than they did just a few decades ago. People are also more likely to have a vacation home, rental property or family farm outside of the state where they currently live.
These facts, along with the reality that many children grow up and move several states away from their parents, mean that more and more people are inheriting property far away from the state in which they reside. If you happen to inherit real property that is outside of your home state, here is what you can do.
Understanding Ancillary Probate
When an individual dies and owns real property or assets that are titled in his or her own name, a probate estate has to be opened where the person lived or where the property is located. Typically, the “main” probate estate is opened where the individual lived immediately prior to death.
However, if the decedent also owned real property in another state (besides the one where the decedent lived) and it was titled in his or her own name, then the property must be probated in the state where the property was located. This is referred to as “ancillary probate” since it is a proceeding in addition to and in support of the main probate where the individual lived prior to his or her death.
The amount of time and cost of ancillary probate is dependent on several factors, some of which include:
- Where family members are located
- The general size of the estate
- Where the property is located
At the absolute least, ancillary probate will require the executor of the primary probate estate to hire a local attorney to help with the ancillary probate process in the state where the additional property is located. There are some situations where a resident of the state where the ancillary probate estate is opened must act as an agent on the behalf of the executor of the primary probate estate.
If property is located in several states, then things become even more complicated. For example, if the deceased person lived in Kansas, had a vacation property in Maine and a timeshare in Florida (yes, a timeshare must go through the probate process), then estates must be opened in all three states.
It’s understandable if your head is spinning. This can be a messy situation. But there is good news. A person owning property in multiple states can avoid multiple probates by establishing a proper estate plan during his or her lifetime.
In fact, with the right estate plan, an individual can avoid probate altogether, as well as the need to deal with several courts and out-of-state attorneys.
Inheriting property located in another state doesn’t have to be a hassle; however, it’s absolutely essential that if you own property in several states that you meet with an experienced estate planning attorney like The KC Estate Planner and make an estate plan now. This will save your children quite a bit of stress and hassle in the future.