Michigan residents who are going through estate planning might be familiar with the probate process. Depending on the size or conditions of your estate though, a secondary probate process might be needed. Ancillary probate is an additional process that happens if the deceased owned property in another state. For example, if you lived full-time in Michigan but owned a house in Ohio or Indiana, then your estate would have to go through ancillary probate.
What property is subject to ancillary probate?
Ancillary probate will mainly impact properties such as houses that are located in another state. But any property that’s in another state – such as a car, a boat, rental property, businesses, etc. – would require ancillary probate.
It will be up to the executor to determine if ancillary probate is needed and to start that secondary process. If ancillary probate is needed, the estate cannot be fully settled until it’s completed.
How to avoid ancillary probate?
If you have a property in another state, you can try to avoid probate by ensuring that it’s jointly owned. For example, you’d want to put your spouse’s or child’s name on the deed to the lake house on Sandusky Bay.
Doing this ensures that the property is immediately transferred to the surviving owner without having to go through the probate process. Alternatively, you can have a transfer-on-death deed that does essentially the same thing but avoids giving ownership before you’re deceased.
You can also put these properties into a trust. Upon your death, ownership would immediately go to whoever you named trustee, which would usually be your spouse, children or another individual.
If you own property in multiple states, there will be multiple ancillary probate processes to go through. This can add extra costs and stress to your surviving family members, which is all the more reason to avoid ancillary probate if possible.