Understanding ancillary probate is essential for individuals with property in different states in New York. This process is a secondary probate proceeding required to distribute out-of-state property to its intended heirs. Understanding the details of ancillary probate and factoring in strategic estate planning can ensure a smoother and more efficient probate process.
How ancillary probate works
In ancillary probate, the estate’s executor initiates the process when it becomes apparent that it contains some assets out of state.
Ancillary probate is a special proceeding in addition to the primary probate proceeding. State courts typically cooperate with the ancillary probate and accept the “foreign will” upon the domiciliary court’s approval. This action helps streamline the overall probate process and can, in some cases, reduce its duration.
Ancillary probate entails additional expenses, including attorneys, accounting and court costs. These can use up a significant amount of the estate’s financial reserves and must be paid before the estate can distribute any assets to heirs.
Intestacy laws vary among states, which can create issues such as potentially identifying certain rightful heirs in the home or domiciliary state and identifying different heirs in the out-of-state location of the ancillary probate proceeding.
Alternatives to ancillary probate
You can own property out of state and avoid ancillary probate by placing the property into a living trust. Once you place assets in a trust, they no longer need to go through the probate process, regardless of location. You may also choose to title out-of-state property with joint rights of survivorship so the property transfers directly to beneficiaries with no need for probate. In some states, you can use a special beneficiary deed, which enables property transfer without probate.
Understanding ancillary probate can help you manage the transfer of out-of-state property and streamline probate. Alternative strategies can offer similar solutions and help reduce some of the complexities of multiple probate proceedings.