If a decedent owned property in Georgia and another state and did not include said property in a living trust, any out-of-state property will require an additional probate process on top of the primary probate for all assets owned within state lines. This additional probate is referred to as ancillary probate. Ancillary probate is required both for Georgia residents owning property in another state and for non-residents who owned property in Georgia, meaning if your grandparents owned a cabin in North Carolina or if an uncle lived in Minnesota but also had the old family farm in Georgia, ancillary probate is required in both cases.

Why Is Ancillary Probate Required?

Ancillary probate is required when a decedent’s will included property that is out of jurisdiction from the probate court where this person resided. Just as the main probate is the process of validating a will, identifying beneficiaries, and settling any debts or taxes before passing on the estate to heirs, the ancillary probate is required by the probate court where the assets are located and follows similar steps to ensure the assets are transferred without fraud or errors since each state has its own unique laws. If the decedent owned real estate property in more than one state, separate ancillary probates will be needed for each location.

What Are the Steps in an Ancillary Probate Process?

The steps for ancillary probate may vary slightly, depending on the requirements of the state where the property is located. Some states may require documentation showing that the main probate process is underway in the state where the decedent resided, so it is best to consult the rules of the state where you anticipate ancillary probate will take place in order to properly follow all necessary guidelines.

In most cases, you will need to initiate the main probate process and have the will accepted by the probate court in the state of residence. This is typically enough for other states to accept the will as a foreign will, without requiring further proof. Some states may then require the executor to present a letter of authorization from the main probate court.

Do I Need an Attorney for an Ancillary Probate Process?

If the out-of-state assets are complex or you anticipate a dispute among beneficiaries, it may be necessary to hire a local probate attorney to assist you with the ancillary probate process. Hiring an attorney is optional, but it may prove to be very helpful, as handling not just one but two or three probate processes can prove to be overwhelming to most executors. If you have assets in multiple states, you may want to include probate avoidance strategies in your estate plans. Talk to an estate planning attorney to learn how living trusts may help you simplify the estate distribution process and spare your loved ones from multiple probate processes.

Oren Ross & Associates has a skilled team of estate planning and probate attorneys that can assist you with all probate matters, including strategies to avoid it, whether it be after a loved one has passed or in a desire to plan for the future. Contact us at (404) 436-1752 to learn more.