If you own property in more than one state, you will need to factor in that property in your estate plan. The probate process that will ensue due to that kind of ownership will be slightly different than what other people in Alabama normally go through.
Understanding ancillary probate
A probate proceeding in Alabama is a court-supervised process of distributing a deceased person’s property. When someone dies owning property in multiple states, an ancillary probate proceeding may be necessary to deal with the out-of-state property.
How it works
In an ancillary probate proceeding, the Alabama court will recognize the validity of the will admitted to probate in the other state. The court will also appoint a personal representative to manage the decedent’s estate. However, the Alabama court will not have jurisdiction over the out-of-state property. This means that the personal representative will need to open a second probate proceeding in the state where the property is located to have authority over it.
How to open an ancillary probate proceeding in Alabama
To open an ancillary probate proceeding in Alabama, the estate executor will need to file a petition with the probate court in the county where the decedent lived. The petition must include:
- The name, address and telephone number of the personal representative
- A certified copy of the death certificate
- A certified copy of the will that is admitted to probate in the other state
- An inventory of the decedent’s property located in Alabama
They will then give notice to all interested parties. This includes anyone named in the will as well as any heirs who would inherit under Alabama’s intestacy laws. The court will set a hearing date, where the judge will determine whether to open an ancillary probate proceeding.
You can plan your estate to avoid ancillary probate in Alabama. One way to do so is to transfer your out-of-state property into a revocable living trust. Properties in a trust are not subject to probate in Alabama or any other state. Another way is to use a Transfer on Death (TOD) designation. TOD designations are available for securities, such as stocks and bonds, and bank accounts. When properly filled out and filed, these designations will transfer the assets directly to the named beneficiary upon the owner’s death without the need for probate.