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AL Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Monday, June 24, 2019

Tips You Need When It Comes to Ancillary Probate

When we first meet with clients to prepare an estate plan, often, one of the primary goals is to avoid probate. Many people do not know, however, that even if you successfully prepare to avoid probate in your home state, without the proper planning, any property you own outside of your state may be subject to a specific type of probate proceeding called ancillary probate. To help better inform you about this type of probate proceeding, let us share with you a few common questions we receive from clients about ancillary probate.

What is ancillary probate?

Ancillary probate is a special type of probate proceeding that may be required in addition to a state probate proceeding. This is true if you own real property or other assets that are attached in a state outside of your home state. This can be a particularly complex topic to understand, and often, many people have not heard about this specific type of probate proceeding.

Will my last will and testament protect my property in another state?

Unfortunately, the short answer is no. This means that any property that you own outside of Alabama will likely not be protected by your last will and testament. If you do not have protections in place for your property in another state, your estate may be subject to ancillary probate upon your death. Accordingly, it is important that you keep this in mind while preparing and structuring your estate plan.

What happens if I appoint a future beneficiary as a joint owner on property I own outside of Alabama?

Before making this important choice, we encourage you to take some time to consider what will happen if you need to be the sole owner of the property. Further, evaluate whether this lifetime gift will exclude you from public benefits such as Medicaid in the future, and the consequences that may result if you change your mind after making this appointment. Discussing the implications of this decision with an experienced, local estate planning attorney may provide you with some peace of mind.

Should I consult with an estate planning attorney about protecting the property I own outside of Alabama?

One of the most effective ways to avoid ancillary probate is to discuss your specific circumstances with an experienced estate planning attorney who knows the laws in your state. There are no uniform or “one size fits all” rules when it comes to ancillary probate, as different states apply different laws. Further, do not forget to notify your estate planning attorney if you acquire any new property outside of Alabama or are planning a move in the near future after creating your estate plan.

We know ancillary probate can be a complicated area, and these are just a few tips to help simplify the process. If you have questions about anything discussed in this article, or if you are ready to start your planning, do not wait to contact us to set up an appointment so we can help you create the right plan for you.

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