Probate court is not always a requirement: It is possible to prevent probate with proper estate planning. This could save a family from having to undergo a long and difficult court process.
If your family owns property in Florida, without an estate plan your assets may have to undergo two probates – one in each state.
About ancillary administration
An estate may require two probate processes if the decedent lived in one state but owned real estate in Florida. The first probate will take place in the residential state, while the second will occur in Florida. Florida Statutes section 734.102 refers to ancillary probate that occurs in a nonresidential state.
The reason for ancillary administration is that each state has jurisdiction over owned properties within the state. The ancillary probate process will take place in the county where the decedent owned property. If assets are something other than property, probate can take place where anyone related to the decedent resides.
Ancillary administration follows all the same rules as the typical probate process in Florida. The estate’s personal representative will notify creditors of the probate process. Then, the courts will determine the validity of estate planning documents, and the personal representative will begin the process of closing the estate. First, assets will go to creditors to satisfy outstanding debts. Then, what remains goes to the representative to distribute according to the decedent’s wishes if there was a will, or according to Florida’s succession laws, if there was not a will.
How to prevent out-of-state probate
Even if your estate does not need to undergo probate in your home state, the estate may require ancillary administration in Florida for owned properties within the state. You may be able to prevent probate and ancillary administration through estate planning methods, such as placing the assets in a trust.