Gainesville, FL Estate Administration Lawyer

Gainesville, FL Estate Ad…

Estate Administration for Out-of-State Families With Florida Property

Do you have a parent or loved one with a “winter home” in Florida? Do you know what will happen to that property when they pass away? Find out what an ancillary estate is, and why you might need a Florida estate administration attorney, even if you and your loved ones lived out-of-state most of the time.

Winter Homes, Condos, and Timeshares Create Estate Administration Headaches

Every year, Florida gains and loses about 90,000 seasonal residents. Many “snowbirds” come south for the winter to stay in their part-time homes, condos, and timeshare properties. While some become permanent Florida residents, many others continue to travel back and forth to their home states for years.

These part-time Florida residents have many reasons why they don’t move to our state permanently. But when a person who owns property in Florida passes away, their out-of-state families may find themselves facing trouble when it comes time to resolve that person’s estate. That is because only a Florida probate court can resolve the distribution of real property located within the state. Even if a deceased person’s bank accounts, retirement accounts, insurance policies, debts, and personal property are all handled elsewhere, you will need to open a Florida probate case to resolve the real property located here. That case is called an ancillary estate.

Florida’s Ancillary Probate Process

You may need to consider a filing for Florida ancillary probate estate administration if your loved one :

  • Died without becoming a resident of Florida.
  • Had assets in Florida.
  • Was owed money from Florida residents.
  • Had a lien on Florida property.

If the property located in Florida was real property -- a home or land -- then ancillary probate is required, not just an option.

Generally, a Florida ancillary probate estate is opened after the estate proceeding in the deceased’s home state has begun. Florida law requires the probate court to appoint a personal representative -- usually a Florida resident -- to oversee the administration of the ancillary estate. Sometimes an out-of-state family member can fill this role if they are named in the will and meet certain other criteria. In some cases, a local attorney can be named as personal representative instead.

The ancillary personal representative has all the same authority and responsibilities as a general personal representative or executor under Florida law. If you are an out-of-state family member and are named an ancillary personal representative, you will be entitled to:

  • Sell, lease, or distribute real property according to the deceased’s will or with court approval.
  • Notify creditors and pay off local debts.
  • Collect money owed to the deceased.

At the same time, you will also be required to file a verified inventory of all Florida property in the deceased’s estate, file all necessary tax returns, and provide the court interim accountings in some cases. You can be paid for your work as an ancillary personal representative according to the rate set by state law or your loved one’s will or contract. Once everything is finalized, you can file a final accounting, and ask the court to discharge the estate.

Avoiding Ancillary Probate

Many people don’t want to have to open two separate probate proceedings to resolve their loved one’s affairs after their death. They would prefer everything to be handled in one place. There are steps that can be taken while your loved one is alive that can avoid going to court after they have passed. Talk to an experienced estate planning attorney to decide whether it is best to:

  • Create a revocable trust and transfer ownership of the real property to it;
  • Title the real property jointly with a right of survivorship with a child or family member you want to inherit the property after you have passed; or
  • Use a simplified procedure such as summary administration or admitting a foreign will to record in the state.

Florida Estate Administration Attorney

If you are an out-of-state family member trying to resolve a loved one’s affairs, traveling to Florida to go to court probably isn’t on the top of your to-do list. By hiring an experienced local Florida estate administration attorney, to act as your ancillary personal representative or represent your family in probate court, you can take some of the burden off your shoulders and be certain everything is done right under Florida law. At Harrison Estate Law, P.A., our experienced estate and probate team can help you select the right process and complete the Florida ancillary probate process. We will help you be sure your loved one’s Florida-related affairs are handled, no matter where you live. Contact us here or call 352-559-9828 to get help today.

Categories: Probate