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By: Scott Grossman on April 5th, 2018

What is Ancillary Probate and when is it needed in California?

Ancillary Probate (noun):

Ancillary Probate must be done if a deceased person has property in more than one state. It must also be done if they die in one state and own property in another. For this situation the main probate is typically done in the state where the deceased person resided and an Ancillary Probate is done in the state where the property was owned. This requires that the estate pay for Probate costs in each state.

Ancillary Probate is a secondary probate which must be opened when a resident of another state dies and he owned property in California.  Probate must be opened in the place where a person lived.  So, if a person lives in Washington State, for example, probate must be opened there.  A Washington judge is not able to make orders concerning the transfer of property in California.  A California judge must make those orders.

If a person owns property that is not held in a trust, his signature is required in order to transfer that property.  That obviously isn’t possible in the case of a death, so probate serves as a substitute for that signature.

Primary probate occurs where the person lives.  The primary probate disposes of most of the decedent’s property, but a California attorney must go into court to open up a secondary, or ancillary, probate in California in order to handle the California property.

From there, probate proceeds and the terms of the decedent’s will are carried out.  If the will stated that a particular beneficiary receives the California property, that is what happens.  Or, if the will states that the property should be sold and certain beneficiaries share the proceeds of the sale, the California judge can make that order.

Beneficiary (noun):

A person who benefits from a trust, will, or life insurance policy. This includes heir, heiress, inheritor, legatee; recipient, receiver, payee, donee, assignee; devisee, grantee.