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What you need to know about ancillary probate in California

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2023

California, like the other states, has its unique estate planning laws. When a loved one dies, their estate will be wound up and distributed according to their wishes or California intestacy laws. But what happens if they had properties in multiple states? Well, this is where ancillary probate comes in. 

Ancillary probate is a “secondary or extra” probate that takes effect when a non-California resident dies owning property within the state. 

When do you need ancillary probate?

Any interested party – the decedent’s estate representative, sister state or a foreign national’s personal representative can petition a California probate court for ancillary administration. For ancillary probate to take effect, however, the non-domiciliary decedent’s assets in California must be worth at least $166,250. 

Serving as an ancillary administrator 

If the decedent died while living in another state, then the court-appointed personal representative will assume this role unless the decedent appointed someone in their will to probate their California estate. The personal representative domiciled in the sister state can also nominate someone to represent them as an administrator with the same responsibilities concerning the administration of the decedent’s estate. These include initiating estate administration, carrying out inventory and appraisals, payment of the decedent’s debts and distributing their estate according to their will or California intestacy laws if they had none.

Reducing the cost of ancillary probate 

The main drawback of ancillary probate is the cost associated with going through multiple probates. Each probate process has its own costs (court fees, appraisal fees and attorney fees among others). One of the best strategies you can adopt to minimize or eliminate the cost of ancillary probate altogether is to prevent such assets from going through probate in the first place. You can achieve this by giving such assets away, placing them in a trust or setting up joint ownership.  

Estate planning can get complicated when you have assets across states. Find out how you can safeguard your rights and interests when setting up ancillary probate in California.