American Indian Owned Law Firm

What is ancillary probate, and can you help your family avoid it?

On Behalf of | Jan 14, 2023 | Probate & Estate Planning

As you take the step of creating an estate plan, one of your main goals is probably to keep your loved ones from going through a long probate process – or maybe to avoid it completely. There are a number of steps you can take to do that, such as putting many of your assets in a living trust. 

Another is to look at any property you may have outside of Oklahoma. Any assets, like a vacation home, bank account, boat or business, that are located outside of your domicile (home) state may need to go through a separate probate process known as ancillary probate.

Probate laws are state specific. Therefore, state probate courts have no jurisdiction over any of a decedent’s assets located in another state.

What’s involved in ancillary probate?

Fortunately, it’s not typically a long, complicated process. As long as your executor has an estate plan to present to a probate court in the other state(s), it will generally be accepted if the Oklahoma probate court accepted it. 

It’s crucial, though, to make your chosen executor aware of this other property so they know that this step will be necessary. While they may be able to take care of it without traveling, you want to be sure they’re willing and able to do that if needed.

You can avoid the need for ancillary probate

If you don’t want your family to have to deal with ancillary probate, there are some steps you can take now. The two most common are:

  • Selling or gifting the out-of-state property or other assets while you’re still around (if you don’t need or want them)
  • Adding your chosen beneficiary to the title (if it’s property) or account so it passes directly to them

The important thing as you develop your estate plan is not to forget about any assets you have in another state or perhaps abroad. Then, with experienced legal guidance, you can determine how best to deal with those assets.