In January, many Seattleites, weary of the dreary skies, plan a mid-winter break. Favorite spots might include Sun Valley for a ski vacation, or maybe Palm Springs for dose of sunshine. Perhaps, you frequent a particular vacation spot often enough that you are tempted to purchase a second home there. As you ponder that decision, one factor to consider might be whether an ancillary probate would be required in the administration of your estate.
What’s an ancillary probate? An ancillary probate is a probate procedure in a state other than the state where the deceased person resides which is necessary in order to transfer title to the decedent’s assets located in that state. Most of the time, the asset necessitating the ancillary probate is real property. In Washington, although attorneys will refer to the probate as “ancillary,” all of the same formalities need to be followed in an ancillary probate as in a standard Washington probate.
For example, George, a resident of Seattle, is a tennis player. Like me, he travels to Palm Springs each March for the “fifth Grand Slam” – the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. George owns a house in Seattle and decides to purchase a condominium in Palm Springs so that he can vacation there more frequently. When George dies, his estate will likely need to be probated in Washington and also in California in order to transfer the Palm Springs condominium to his heirs. Two probate proceedings can be fairly expensive, especially if one of those probates occurs in California because of the complexities of that state’s probate system. If George buys a condominium in Hawaii, then a third probate in Hawaii may be needed in order to transfer his interest in that property to his heirs. And so on.
Is an ancillary probate scary? No. But owners of out-of-state properties do need to be aware and knowledgeable of the potential costs. Depending on the location and extent of the out-of-state real estate holdings, it may be wise to set up a revocable living trust in order to avoid multiple probates. In that event, the revocable living trust would hold title to the out-of-state properties. In the event of death, the properties would be transferred pursuant to the terms of the trust.
Would you like more information on what would be the best course of action for your vacation property? Please contact us. We’d be happy to help.
Photo credit: JE Theriot on Flickr