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Understanding ancillary probate in Florida

On Behalf of | Oct 20, 2021 | Estate Administration |

For Florida residents, estate planning is essential for many reasons. Fundamentally, having a comprehensive estate plan will protect the person’s loved ones and ensure that the assets go where the person – the testator – wants them to. They certainly do not want to leave a litany of issues and challenges behind that can delay and complicate the process. However, for some, a failure to fully grasp understated aspects of estate planning and probate laws can be the catalyst for problems. That is especially true with ancillary probate. Knowing the law about ancillary probate is imperative for those who fall into certain categories.

Residency, assets and ancillary probate in Florida

It is not uncommon for residents of other states to have property in Florida. Often, this is a vacation home or an investment property. Regardless of the property itself – it could be anything – or the reason it was in Florida, ancillary probate could be a concern. While it is comparable to conventional probate, it is wise for those who have property in Florida to take steps to avoid it or to be prepared for it. This serves to ensure the terms of the testator’s will are carried out. This type of probate can be worrisome because it is an extra level of probate that is conducted in a separate state.

The first probate is conducted where the person resided. After that, there will be ancillary probate. In general, Florida probate court will accept a will from another state – called a “foreign will.” The process is essentially the same as conventional probate, but since the home state did not have jurisdiction over Florida property, there must be another probate in Florida. Despite this being a relatively frequent occurrence and courts being reasonable about working together in these circumstances, there are potential issues. That includes the person dying without a will or the will having been changed.

Being prepared for every eventuality may require experienced assistance

As with any estate plan, there is the potential for dispute among the heirs. When there is confusion about anything such as property in Florida owned by a person who lived in a separate state, it is important to have legal guidance with how this will be addressed. Consulting with those who have extensive experience in probate and estate administration in Florida can be helpful. This is true when crafting the estate plan and after the testator has passed on.