An executor under a Texas decedent’s will may have to go through more than one probate process. Ancillary probate occurs when the deceased owns real estate or tangible property in more than one state.
Why is ancillary probate necessary?
An ancillary probate process must occur because the probate court in the deceased’s home state has no jurisdiction over property in other states. In addition to real estate, ancillary probate covers items like cars, boats, airplanes, etc., purchased and licensed in another state. Ancillary probate may also be necessary for oil, livestock, gas or mineral rights attached to the out-of-state property.
How ancillary probate works
As an executor, one of your first duties after the testator dies is to identify all assets owned by the decedent and their location. State probate courts often work in conjunction with each other to resolve estates. The state court where the initial proceeding occurs, also known as the domiciliary court, will often initiate an ancillary proceeding in another state when it becomes clear that an estate has property in multiple jurisdictions. Ancillary courts often accept petitions to help shorten the probate process. Domiciliary and ancillary probate proceedings take place simultaneously.
Avoiding ancillary probate
Ancillary probate can become even more complicated when a person dies intestate, without a valid will. When there is no valid will, intestacy laws determine who receives the property. Laws differ in each state, meaning some heirs may not receive property. Ensuring a will is valid through periodic updates is essential when ancillary probate is necessary.
However, people can avoid ancillary probate in many cases during their lifetime by placing property in a living trust, regardless of the state where the property is located. Retitling property to include co-owners is another way. When more than one owner is listed on a title or deed, the property simply passes to the other owners upon the primary owner’s passing. Some states recognize special beneficiary deeds that allow real estate to be transferred upon death without a probate proceeding.