Most people have at least a basic idea of what probate is – it’s the court process through which certain property is transferred to your heirs and beneficiaries after you pass away. But, did you know that your estate might be subject to probate in more than one state?
The process is called ancillary probate, and it applies if you pass away owning property in another state that’s titled in your name, and that’s not subject to anyone else’s contractual rights.
For instance, if, at the time of your death, you own a vacation home and a car in Georgia, and both are titled only in your name, then you’ll not only potentially have an estate to probate here, your loved ones will also have to worry about probate in Georgia. Absent the probate process, the vacation home and car can’t be transferred to your heirs.
As a practical matter, this means that your executor will have to find and hire a Georgia probate attorney, pay additional legal fees, and pay the court costs involved in an extra probate process. Not to mention the additional time ancillary probate takes.
So, how can you avoid ancillary probate? One way to do this is through a properly funded Revocable Living Trust. If all of your property is held in the name of the trust, there’s no property left to be subject to probate – in any state.
For larger estates where tax planning is necessary, there are other advanced estate planning methods that can be used to avoid ancillary probate in addition to accomplishing other goals. For specific advice on how you can avoid ancillary probate, check with an estate planning attorney.