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Your Wisconsin vacation home and ancillary probate

 Posted on October 24, 2021 in Uncategorized

As you start your estate planning, you likely already know that one of your goals should be helping your estate avoid probate – or at least a long, complicated one that will put your loved ones through the added expense and stress at an already difficult time.

If there's anything worse than one probate process, it's two. That may be necessary if you own property in another state when you pass away. Property that's subject to probate has to be dealt with in a court in that state. That's called “ancillary probate.” (Probate in your home state is “domiciliary probate.”)

The good news is that state probate courts are typically amenable to cooperating with each other on ancillary probate proceedings. That can make things easier for your executor, who will need to initiate all probate. However, it's still important to make sure your executor knows about this out-of-state property. They may have to travel there to deal with it. Going up to Wisconsin is one thing, but if you also have a condo in South Florida you're planning to retire to, that can mean a lot of extra time and travel.

Can ancillary probate be avoided?

Of course, you can sell your out-of-state property. However, you might have plans to use it for as long as you're able to – or perhaps one day move there.

If your intention is to leave the property to a family member, you can place it in a living trust. This kind of trust is often used to avoid probate. It allows people to retain ownership and control over their property while they're alive, and then it passes directly to the designated beneficiary or beneficiaries when they pass away.

Another option is to add the family member who will be inheriting the property to the title. Usually, that's done by making them a “joint tenant with right of survivorship."

By having experienced legal guidance as you develop your estate plan, you can help ensure that your wishes are known and carried out and that make things as easy as possible for your loved ones.

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