After losing a loved one, the prospect of navigating probate can be daunting – all the more so when they owned property in multiple states. It’s a common scenario in Florida, where many people own vacation properties. Frequently, their primary residence is in another state. Their will, family members and personal representative (sometimes called “executor” in other states) aren’t in Florida. Nonetheless, separate probate proceedings – called “ancillary probate” – may be necessary to deal with the Florida property.
Understanding the procedure
Ancillary probate proceedings in Florida follow Florida law and procedure. Depending on the value of the Florida property, the estate might follow either formal or summary procedures. Most real estate falls under the formal probate process, which involves posting bond, filing an authenticated will, notifying creditors, preparing an inventory, securing appraisals, paying taxes and completing numerous other steps – all in addition to the probate proceedings in the decedent’s home state (called the “domiciliary probate”).
Florida courts will apply Florida law as it pertains to the Florida property, even if the will was executed in another state. The personal representative for ancillary proceedings must be either a Florida resident or a close relative of the decedent.
How to keep costs down and avoid missteps
The key to navigating ancillary probate in Florida lies in hiring the right local legal counsel. A qualified Florida attorney can assist with:
- Appointing a personal representative for the ancillary estate
- Obtaining correct documentation from the domiciliary proceedings
- Providing guidance and counsel on Florida probate requirements
- Representing the estate in Florida court filings and appearances
- Minimizing delays and avoiding costly missteps
Enlisting experienced legal counsel goes a long way toward successfully completing the ancillary probate process.