What to know about ancillary probate

If you own property in Texas, state law will determine how that property is dealt with after you die. In the event that you own property in multiple states, your estate will likely need to go through a process called ancillary probate. Ancillary probate occurs simultaneously, which means that your executor should be ready to deal with cases in multiple states.

States don’t have jurisdiction outside their borders

The main reason why you would need to go through ancillary probate is because your home state has no authority over other states. For instance, a Texas judge couldn’t force someone in Ohio to transfer ownership of a home or bank account. Instead, you would need a judge in Ohio to issue that order and ensure it is enforced.

Use titles to your advantage

Titling property so that it goes directly to a beneficiary upon your death may avoid the need for multiple probate proceedings. This is because there would be no need to verify that your wishes are valid. Instead, your home, car or other items would pass to your beneficiary upon showing a valid death certificate.

Consider a trust

Another way to avoid probate is to put assets into a trust. In such a scenario, the trust would dictate how and when assets should be distributed instead of state probate laws. Trusts may also be ideal if you want to add privacy to your estate plan or want to ensure that your affairs are managed while you’re still alive. Finally, a trust may be ideal because they are harder to challenge than wills, which may reduce the risk of family infighting eroding the value of your estate.

In most cases, state courts will work together to ensure that probate takes as little time as possible. However, multiple court cases may be expensive despite efforts to streamline them. Therefore, it may be a good idea to consider a trust or other options available to avoid probate.