Ancillary probate is a probate proceeding that occurs when someone dies with property in more than one state or dies while residing in one state with property in another.
The deceased’s executor will generally open a probate action in each state where the decedent owned property. The state where the decedent was a resident at the time of death would be the main probate action, while the additional states where the decedent owned property would be ancillary probate actions. For example, if the deceased lived in Colorado and had assets in both Colorado, California, and Nevada, his executor would file a probate action in Colorado, but the Colorado court can’t transfer the property in California and Nevada to the deceased’s heirs. Rather, a probate attorney would need to file ancillary probate actions in California and Nevada to begin the transfer of those out-of-state assets to the deceased’s heirs.
While the main probate action should be filed where the deceased lived at the time of death, sometimes determining where someone officially resided isn’t so straightforward. The factors that determine where someone resided include:
- Where the deceased lived;
- Where the deceased was registered to vote;
- Where the deceased’s driver’s license was issued; and
- Where they received their mail.
Once a personal representative is appointed by the court for the primary probate proceedings, the representative can begin ancillary proceedings in each state where the deceased owns property. The representative will present a certified copy of the will to the out-of-state courts for the ancillary probate proceedings.
Ancillary probate actions can add additional time and expense to the distribution of your estate. But with planning, I can help you avoid multiple actions and ensure that your estate is distributed as quickly as possible to your family and heirs. If you are facing a possible ancillary probate situation after the death of a loved one, I can help as well. Call me at 714-639-1990 or send me an email to schedule a consultation.