The Judicial Council of Georgia reported 490,775 probate cases for 2021. These are likely to have been full cases where the court has to disburse and close out the estate matters of a deceased person.
Sometimes, probate cases may require special steps. A good example is ancillary probate, which involves dealing with an estate that spans multiple states.
Ancillary probate defined
Ancillary probate is a legal process that arises when a deceased individual owns property in more than one state or jurisdiction. When a person passes away, the primary probate process typically takes place in their state of residence. However, if they also own property in another state, that property may be subject to ancillary probate proceedings in that state.
The need for ancillary probate
The main reason ancillary probate occurs is that probate laws and regulations are state-specific. Each state has its own set of rules governing how to handle property within its jurisdiction after an individual’s death. As a result, when a decedent owns property in a different state, it may trigger the need for ancillary probate proceedings in that state to address the assets located there.
Managing ancillary probate
Dealing with ancillary probate can be complex, as it requires coordination between multiple legal jurisdictions. Executors of the estate must initiate ancillary probate proceedings in the additional state or states. This often involves filing a petition with the local probate court and complying with that state’s probate laws.
Costs and time
Ancillary probate can be time-consuming and expensive, as it involves additional legal proceedings, court fees and potentially hiring attorneys in the additional state. The process can also prolong the settlement of the estate, causing delays in asset distribution to beneficiaries.
To avoid ancillary probate, individuals might consider setting up a revocable living trust or using joint ownership with rights of survivorship. These methods can help bypass probate for out-of-state property, simplifying the estate settlement process.