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How Ancillary Probate Works in Florida

The National Association Of Home Builders states that Florida has the nation’s highest number of second homes, accounting for 10.8% of all secondary properties. The popularity of vacation homes, timeshares, and “snowbird” properties indicates that many people are residents of other states but own property in Florida. While this is a great way to take advantage of Florida’s beautiful weather and many attractions, owning property in multiple states can complicate the probate process when the property owner passes away. A secondary probate proceeding, called ancillary probate, is necessary when this happens. Learn more about ancillary probate and how it works here.

What Does Ancillary Probate Mean?

When a loved one passes away and owns property in multiple states, the property must undergo probate in that state. Ancillary probate is a secondary probate proceeding for individuals who were non-Florida residents but owned real property or other assets in Florida. Ancillary probate occurs at the same time as the “domiciliary,” or primary, probate.

When is Ancillary Probate Required?

Ancillary probate is required in several situations, including when:

  • A non-Florida resident passes away with assets or debts in Florida.
  • Creditors are owed debts from an estate located in Florida.
  • The decedent has liens on a Florida property.
  • The decedent listed beneficiaries of a Florida property in their will.

What Types of Property Go Through Ancillary Probate?

Any Florida property that a non-resident owns will need to go through ancillary probate when they pass away. Types of property that may require ancillary probate include residential homes, vacation homes, investment properties, commercial properties, vacation rental properties, or timeshares. 

Ancillary Probate Step-by-Step

Ancillary probate is handled the same way as regular probate. The difference is that ancillary probate occurs in a different state while the primary probate proceeding is still open. 

Before probate proceedings can begin, a qualified personal representative (also called an executor in other states) must be selected. To be a personal representative for ancillary probate in Florida, you must be a blood relative of the decedent or a current Florida resident. If there’s no one suitable who fits these requirements, the person with the most interest in Florida property (such as the beneficiary who would receive the asset listed in the will) can act as the personal representative. 

The personal representative works with a Florida probate attorney to file the probate petition and submit necessary documents, such as the will and death certificate. The probate court will then grant the personal representative authority to execute the will. Then, letters of administration are issued, which officially begins the probate process. 

The personal representative notifies the beneficiaries who will inherit the property and informs potential creditors who may be owed money from the estate. Creditors have 90 days after receiving notification to file a claim against the estate. Once notifications are completed, the personal representative values the property and assets located in Florida. Creditors are paid from the estate’s value, along with any probate court expenses.  

Once creditors have been paid, any remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries according to the will.

Common Questions about Ancillary Probate

Below, we address some of the questions we get about ancillary probate:

How Long Does Ancillary Probate Take? 

Ancillary probate typically takes around six months to complete and happens at the same time as primary probate in the decedent’s home state. 

What Happens if There Are Disputes During Ancillary Probate?

Disputes during ancillary probate can significantly impact the process, potentially leading to delays and complications. If beneficiaries or interested parties believe that the will is not authentic or that the appointed personal representative is unfit to perform their duties, they may file a legal challenge or “contest” the proceeding in court.

How Do You Avoid Ancillary Probate? 

Strategic estate planning tools can be used to avoid ancillary probate, such as creating revocable living trusts or owning property with “rights of survivorship” or “transfer upon death” benefits.

What Are the Costs Associated with Ancillary Probate? 

Costs may include court fees, attorney fees, and administrative expenses, varying based on the estate’s complexity.

Ancillary Probate with Every & Stack

Our probate attorneys at Every & Stack are experienced in ancillary probate for properties in Daytona Beach and surrounding areas. Florida requires lawyers to be used during probate proceedings, and we’ll guide you through each step of the ancillary probate process. Contact us today at 386-255-1925 for a free consultation, or reach out online.

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