Probate Law

Let Us Answer Your Ancillary Probate FAQs

You may have heard the term “ancillary probate,” but don’t know what it means.  So, if you need an answer to the question, “what is ancillary probate?” this is the blog for you.  

In this article, we are going to answer typical client questions about ancillary probate, and why it is something that you typically would like to avoid.  If, after reading this article, you have additional questions about probate and estate planning, then we welcome you to contact the Palm Beach County lawyers at Doane & Doane, PA.  Call today at 561-656-0200 or fill out our online contact form.

So, to Start, What Is Ancillary Probate?

If a non-resident of Florida, who owns a home, condo, commercial building, or other types of real estate in Florida passes away, then the decedent’s estate and beneficiaries must deal with an ancillary probate proceeding.  

Florida is well known for being a part-time destination for lots of people who own property both in Florida and elsewhere.  Indeed, as you well know, many people in the north come down to Florida during the winter months to avoid the harsh winter weather.  Many of those people will typically own real estate because of that half-year-on, half-year-off lifestyle.  Thus, ancillary probate is likely more common in Florida than in other states in the U.S.

Thus, ancillary probate is the necessary process for a person who passes away who is a non-Florida resident, yet owns Florida property.

What is the Ancillary Probate Process?

Ancillary probate is not that different from regular probate proceedings in Florida.  As with regular probate, ancillary probate proceedings include the terms of the bond, a notice to creditors, and the option to sell the property and pay off debts.  The main difference between ancillary and regular probate is that at the end of an ancillary probate proceeding, the assets can be given either to the beneficiaries or to the domiciliary estate (the estate where the deceased was a resident), where it can be further administered. 

In addition, an ancillary probate administration could be handled in a “summary” fashion similar to regular Florida summary administrations, as long as the Florida property in question is valued at less than $50,000.

Why Would I Want to Avoid Ancillary Probate? 

The main reason to try to avoid ancillary probate is that an ancillary probate proceeding in any state adds additional cost to settling a person’s estate. In Florida, the ancillary probate proceeding can get quite expensive for two reasons:

1. Need a Florida attorney.  The person who represents a non-resident decedent’s estate must get the services of a Florida attorney, and

2. 3 Percent Attorney Fee.  The fees that a Florida attorney may charge for handling ancillary probate begin at 3% of the value of the decedent’s assets in Florida. Accordingly, a vacation home worth $250,000 could mean a probate fee of $7,500.

What Are Some Ways to Avoid Ancillary Probate?

Because of the cost of an ancillary probate proceeding for non-Florida residents who own Florida real estate in Florida, avoiding the process is preferable.  There are four main ways in which to avoid ancillary probate.

1. Enhanced Life Estate Deed.  Florida law recognizes something called an “enhanced life estate deed,” which allows a life tenant (you, the owner) to pass the real estate outside of probate to beneficiaries that you name in the deed (called “remaindermen”).

2. Business Ownership Any commercial property or rental real estate in Florida can be transferred into a business entity.  Thus, the real estate becomes the personal property of the business, thereby avoiding ancillary probate. 

3. Joint Ownership.  With the help of an experienced Florida attorney, you may title the Florida property to include you and one or more people who have the right of survivorship. That means that when you pass away, any “survivors” on the title automatically receive the property with no need for ancillary probate.

4. Trust Ownership.  Finally, you may title the Florida property in the name of a trust, like a revocable living trust, which designates how the property is handled and avoids probate altogether.

To employ any of these options you should be sure to first speak with a Florida estate planning attorney.

What is Ancillary Probate?  Ask a Doane & Doane Attorney

Founded in 2003 by husband and wife legal team, Randell C. Doane and Rebecca G. Doane, Doane & Doane provides legal and financial services to families, individuals, and businesses throughout Southeast Florida.

Estate planning is about much more than just giving away property.  It is an act of love and kindness, with the ultimate goal of providing for the future financial security of your loved one.  At Doane & Doane, our tax and estate professionals help people plan for retirement, consider various types of wills and trusts, make provisions for loved ones, figure out future child support, and minimize tax liability.  Experienced wills and trusts attorneys know which tools to use to get the best results for their clients.  Our lawyers can help you determine which tools are best suited to your specific circumstances.

When it comes to probate matters, such as the formal administration of an estate, Florida fiduciaries seek the assistance of the attorneys at Doane & Doane, P.A. to administer and manage their trusts and estates.  Notably, the founding partners of Doane & Doane are board-certified West Palm Beach Probate Attorneys.  With the additional advantage of certified public accountancy in their backgrounds, they present a unique combination of skills and experience which enables them to effectively settle, administer, and manage clients’ trusts and estates.

Since the day we opened our doors, we have worked hard to earn a reputation as one of the region’s most prominent tax and estate planning law firms in Palm Beach County, Florida. Our dynamic team includes the firm’s founding partners, experienced associate attorneys, and an outstanding team of paralegals, legal assistants, and support

Call the Palm Beach County lawyers at Doane & Doane, P.A.  You can reach us at 561-656-0200.  Call us today.

The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not make a decision whether or not to contact an attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.