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Ella passed away while living in New York, but she owned several rental properties in Alabama. Jesse lived and died in Texas but docked his fishing boat in Alabama. Ella and Jesse have something in common: their estates will have to file ancillary probate in Alabama.

What Is Ancillary Probate?

When someone dies, their estate goes through probate in the state they were living in at the time of death. However, many people own property in more than one state. That’s where ancillary probate comes in. It’s a probate proceeding held in addition to the original proceeding.

How Does Probate Work?

The personal representative files the decedent’s Will to start the probate. If there’s no Will, an interested person files an application to be appointed administrator. The court appoints the personal representative, who begins to gather the decedent’s assets and claims against the estate. At the end of the probate proceeding, the personal representative distributes the decedent’s probate assets (after paying valid claims) to beneficiaries according to the Will.

Why Is Ancillary Probate in Alabama Necessary?

The probate court in the home state has no jurisdiction over property found in other jurisdictions. Depending on the assets and how they were held, the estate may have to file additional probate proceedings to dispose of property in the state in which the decedent did not reside.

For example, using the example above, Ella’s estate will be probated in New York. She lived there and it was probably her state of domicile. After her personal representative originates probate in New York, he or she will file for ancillary probate in Alabama to deal with the transfer of her Alabama property.

Can Ancillary Probate Be Avoided?

Sometimes. For example, had a revocable living trust owned the property that became probate estate assets, it probably would have transferred to heirs automatically after the grantor of the trust passed away.

Likewise, property may be titled in such a way that it does not become a probate asset. Jointly owned property may pass directly to the surviving owner without the need for probate.

Probate, trust and property ownership laws are complicated. Talk to an attorney as soon as possible if ancillary probate is needed, or if you want your family to avoid having to file an ancillary proceeding.

Learn More About Ancillary Probate in Alabama.

The attorneys at Miller Estate and Elder Law know how to help you with estate planning and probate, whether it’s an original proceeding or an ancillary proceeding. For a free consultation, contact us at 256-472-1900. Miller Estate and Elder Law is now located at 818 Leighton Avenue in Anniston, but we serve clients in Gadsden, Hoover, Talladega, Vestavia Hills, and surrounding areas.