Ancillary Probate Administration
The beauty and climate of Florida draw thousands of visitors each year, and many – U.S citizens and foreign nationals alike – become so enamored of our fair state that they purchase real estate here. When these land owners, whether they are “snowbirds” or investors or newcomers to Florida, die and legally are not a resident of the State of Florida, an “ancillary probate” or “ancillary administration” is required.
Non-resident land ownership is not the only basis for an ancillary probate administration. Pursuant to Florida Statute §734.102, an ancillary probate will be mandatory if a non-resident dies: (1) leaving assets in this state, (2) leaving credits due from residents in this state, or (3) leaving liens on property in this state.
Personal Representatives in Ancillary Probate Proceedings
There must be a personal representative named to represent the ancillary estate under Florida law. In fact, Florida law is very specific regarding who acts as the personal representative of the non-resident’s estate lying within Florida’s borders.
Chapter 734 of the Florida Probate Code governs ancillary administration. According to Florida Statute §734.102, if a personal representative has been specifically designated in the decedent's will to administer the Florida property, then the decedent’s wishes shall be respected if the designee is qualified to act in Florida. Otherwise, the foreign personal representative of the decedent's estate will have letters issued, if he is qualified to act in Florida.
If the foreign personal representative is not qualified, then any alternate or successor representative named in the will who is qualified to act in Florida can act as the personal representative in the ancillary probate matter. If the decedent’s will does not leave anyone qualified and able to act under Florida law as the personal representative, then those entitled to a majority interest of the Florida property may have letters issued to a qualified personal representative they have selected.
Ancillary Probate Administration can be simple or complicated.
Depending upon the individual circumstances, a Florida Ancillary Probate matter can be handled rather easily and without undue expense. In uncontested ancillary probate matters, the probate usually can be settled quickly and cost-efficiently. Often, the out-of-state client and/or personal representative does not need to travel to Florida because uncontested ancillary probates can be resolved through summary proceedings where there is no formal hearing before the judge and, therefore, no need for their in-court appearance. In fact, our offices often successfully resolve and conclude Ancillary Probate matters throughout the State of Florida without courtroom time, via mail to the appropriate Florida probate court.
It is only when controversies arise regarding the property at issue that ancillary probate matters can become more time and cost intensive. Contested proceedings will necessitate evidentiary hearings, where documentary evidence as well as testimony will need to be provided to the court to support the disposition of the Florida claims.
If you have comments or questions regarding how a probate lawyer at the Law Offices of Adrian Philip Thomas, P.A. might be of assistance with a Florida ancillary probate administration matter, then please feel free to contact the firm’s office to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys.