If you stay in Florida for part of the year but officially live in another state, working through the non-resident probate process upon your death may become complex for your personal representative, especially if your property involves real estate. Your loved ones may have to shoulder the burden of additional fees and costs, which can become expensive.
According to the Florida Courts, when a non-resident dies and leaves assets in the state, it requires ancillary probate. This is the process necessary for passing the ownership of assets, per the decedent’s request, to their heirs.
How ancillary probate works
Ancillary administration follows the same procedure as a domiciliary estate. It includes notice to creditors, terms of bond, ability to pay off debt and sell the property. After the process, the domiciliary estate may distribute assets to the beneficiaries. If the property has a value of less than $50,000, your personal representative may conduct the summary ancillary administration.
Ancillary probate becomes expensive for two primary reasons. The first is that the personal representative must have the services of a Florida attorney, per state probate rules. The second is that the fees typically start at 3% of the total Florida assets. For example, if you own a condo, apartment or vacation home valued at $300,000, fees may start at $9,000.
How to avoid ancillary probate
Taking appropriate action before you pass away can help your family avoid the expense of ancillary probate. Have your personal representative or heir added to the title of the property in question. This can give them the right of survivorship, which means there’s no need for ancillary probate. You can pass the real estate outside of probate with an enhanced life estate deed. Moving the property into a trust or business entity can also help avoid probate as it changes the required process.
Using lawful probate strategies can help ensure your property reaches your heirs and avoids much of the expense.