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Probate may need to occur in more than one state for a "snowbird"

The mild winters here in Arizona attract a lot of people during those months. Because they are escaping the winter weather, those who live here full time affectionately call them "snowbirds." Despite only living here for part of the year, many who claim residency in another state own property here.

Upon their death, probate is often a requirement in order to distribute that property to heirs and beneficiaries. One can accomplish this through a procedure called an ancillary probate.

What is ancillary probate?

An ancillary probate takes place separately from the primary probate, which occurs in the state in which your loved one died or claimed residency. This is because the property located here in Arizona falls under this state's laws, not the laws of the state in which the primary probate takes place. This process most often applies to property titled here in Arizona, such as homes, boats and automobiles.

Unless the title to property located here is in the name of a trust or jointly with another party, it must go through the ancillary probate process. Whether a valid will exists does not matter. If the property does not pass by operation of law, it must go through probate.

If your loved one failed to create a will, then the property located here is subject to this state's laws of intestacy, which could slightly differ from the laws in the decedent's home state. Because the laws may differ, even slightly, from state to state, it might be a good idea to consult with an Arizona probate attorney regarding an ancillary probate.

Seeking help with this process

If you are reading this as the owner of property here in the state, you have the opportunity to title the property in a way that will prevent the need for an ancillary probate upon your death. This could keep your surviving family members from the extra time and expense it will take to distribute your Arizona property. You have more than one option, so it would be beneficial to understand each of them before choosing one.

If your loved one owned property here, but did not reside here upon his or her death, you may want to enlist some help in determining the best way to resolve the issues of his or her ancillary estate. If your loved one resided and died here, but you live in another state, you probably need assistance, too.

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