All Washington adults should have an estate plan. However, if they own property in another state, it can complicate matters as that property must go through ancillary probate after their death. This is what that means and how it works.
Understanding ancillary probate
When a person dies, whether or not they had a will, their estate goes through the probate process. A will can speed things up, but if the individual owned a separate property in another state, it leads to ancillary probate. This means that an additional probate proceeding must take place on top of the one occurring in the home state. The reason that a second probate is needed is that the probate court in the person’s home state lacks jurisdiction over the property in the other state.
Ancillary probate applies to real estate and tangible personal property. For example, the decedent owned a home in Washington but in their will left to a beneficiary a vehicle or a valuable painting in California. The item in California cannot go through probate in the testator’s home state of Washington.
How ancillary probate works
The executor or administrator of the person’s estate in their home state initiates ancillary probate once the property out of state becomes known. Often, state courts will cooperatively work together when ancillary probate is necessary, which can speed up the process. However, the estate cannot be settled until after the ancillary probate process is complete.
Ancillary probate is a pricy process as it involves administering two estates instead of just one. There are additional court, accounting and attorneys’ fees involved even when state courts cooperate with one another. It can also cut into the original estate’s finances.