If your family is from a state other than Massachusetts, or if you simply like to get away from it all every once in a while, you may have out-of-state real estate in the form of a vacation property, condo, timeshares and so on. These and other types of out-of-state property could trigger a process known as ancillary probate.
Generally speaking, probate courts handle the distribution of your wealth to your heirs. The main case would probably be in the state where you were legally residing, with other courts taking up issues of property in their respective jurisdictions. Please continue reading for some details and options regarding this issue.
As explained on FindLaw, you have to be the sole owner of property in order to make ancillary probate necessary in most cases. That means you would be the only person on the deed, without joint, trust or other types of ownership. Your heirs may have some options in this case, but it would probably be more efficient for you to address the issue proactively than to leave it to them.
If you have joint ownership of real estate, there may be options available even without further planning right now. Your beneficiaries would probably have to contact a lawyer and ask for advice based on the relevant probate laws in each jurisdiction.
Perhaps the simplest way to avoid ancillary probate, although it is not appropriate for every situation, is to use a trust. With certain types of trusts, you could maintain control over your vacation or investment property while you were alive and allow it to transfer to the party of your choice upon your death. Since trusts are separate entities from you as far as the law is concerned, the assets they hold often do not have to go through probate of any type.
The first step towards taking the most beneficial course of action for your family’s future is looking at the details of your case. This is not specific legal advice; it is only general information.