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How does ancillary probate work?

Sometimes the probate process that occurs after a person’s death can become much more complicated. This is often the case in the state of California where certain residents may own property that exists in other states. Navigating such a probate case can be difficult as a beneficiary or executor of a will, but the law that governs this situation does exist that can be referred to ancillary probate.

What is ancillary probate?

In a normal probate process, referred to here as domiciliary probate, the will of the deceased appoints an executor of the estate. This executor then acts as an administrator of the deceased’s estate and helps to transfer assets to the designated beneficiaries. This is also true of ancillary probate. However, the big difference is ancillary probate must take place when the deceased’s estate includes property owned in multiple states.

Ancillary probate is actually a separate process that happens in addition to the traditional California probate process. When the home court’s legal jurisdiction does not extend to this extra property in other states, an application may need to be made to start the ancillary probate process in that state. Alternatively, a non-California resident may have had property in California and need to do the reverse.

Property affected

Although nearly any kind of property can be affected by ancillary probate, it usually concerns:

  • second homes
  • investment properties
  • businesses
  • cars
  • boats

The complexity is added since ownership of these properties must be registered in the states they exist in and may be placed under separate rules than would be the case in California. For example, a state that has “community property” rules would be governed differently than California.

Overall, navigating through normal probate is difficult enough. The extra complexities of ancillary probate can be overwhelming. Make sure you have sufficient support to navigate this process as an executor or beneficiary.