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I Have An Out Of State Vacation Home – What Should I Know About Probate When Estate Planning?


For many, it is the highest echelon of the American Dream: not only do you own a home in the state where you live and work, but you have also successfully financed your dream out-of-state property. Whether it’s a house on the beach or a secluded cabin on the chilled lakes of Maine – many families aspire to provide a place where their family can gather and make memories; a home that passes through the generations.  But what does the property owner actually need to do to ensure that they pass on their property to their loved ones as quickly and painlessly as possible?


After an individual dies, the legal process of administering the decedent’s estate, or “probate,” begins. During the probate process the court will extract any capital necessary to settle debts and pay the taxes of the estate. If a decedent dies with a will in place, a judge will verify that the will is valid and then “admit the will” into the probate process for consideration and execution. Even if a will is in place at the time of death, title to the decedent’s property must pass through probate so the court is assured that the will is valid and the property is being distributed to the intended heirs. This probate process must be completed before title is transferred to the beneficiaries under the will.

Ancillary Probate

If the deceased owned out of state property, the beneficiaries of the will also need to file an “ancillary” probate case, in addition to the probate case. The complexity of the ancillary probate process, and time and money required to complete the process, will vary by state and complexity of the individual estate. However, beneficiaries should always anticipate that undertaking an ancillary probate process will lengthen the probate process. The rules governing Florida ancillary probate are set forth in Florida Statute section 734.102.

There are actions you can take now to construct your estate planning strategically, and avoid the lengthy and costly probate process described above. Just a few viable options include utilizing one of the items below, in place of or in addition to a traditional will:

Revocable Trust

A trust enables one party (trustor) to give another party (trustee) the right to hold title to property or assets. A revocable trust can be altered and added to throughout the trustor’s life. The trustor can put any percentage of the estate into a revocable trust. If a Trustor places an out-of-state property into a revocable trust, the trustee should be able to obtain title to the property without going through the ancillary probate process.

Irrevocable Trust

An irrevocable trust operates in a very similar fashion to a revocable trust. The key difference is that a trustor is unable to alter or terminate an Irrevocable trust once it is established.

Contact Suncoast Civil Law for help with Wills, Trusts & Probate Matters

There are a number of actions you can proactively take in the course of estate planning to protect your assets and beneficiaries. If you would like to further discuss your own estate plan or probate issue with an experienced Sarasota wills & probate attorney, call Suncoast Civil Law for a free consultation.