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By: Scott Grossman on June 14th, 2017

When Is Ancillary Probate Needed In California?

If an out-of-state resident dies owning property in California, an ancillary probate, or secondary probate, will need to be opened here in California so a judge can make orders concerning the property. The majority of the estate will be handled through primary probate in the other state, but the property can only be handled through ancillary probate in California.

When is Ancillary Probate needed in California?

Ancillary probate is a legal term that’s unfamiliar to most people so here’s what it means.

If somebody has died and they live somewhere outside of California, such as Washington state and they owed real estate in California there will be a need for an ancillary or a secondary probate. The reason for that is pretty straightforward, wherever a person is living right before they died is the place where the probate has to occur.

The reason for that is because you may need a second probate in California if the decedent lives somewhere outside of California, is when it comes to transferring real property if the person who owned the property held it in their name rather than in the name of the trust you will need the dead person’s signature to convey good title to a new buyer. Obviously, that can’t happen, so the substitute for that is an opening probate, but a court outside the state of California can’t issue order concerning California real estate. So, you need to have open real estate here in California in order to get a court order from either transferring that property beneficiaries of the probate or allowing the sale of that property and then having the proceeds of the sale building to the beneficiaries.


Let’s assume a man by the name of Jon Smith lives in Seattle and dies. When John dies he’s got a bunch of bank accounts, his home in Seattle, and has a vacation home in Palm Springs.

The probate that happens in Seattle is going to be the primary probate and is going to dispose of all newly of John’s estate, but that house in Palm Springs. However, the house in Palm Springs can’t be dealt with outside of Seattle. So, the executor of the estate is going to need counsel down in California to open probate in Pam Springs to get that order concerning the Palm Springs house. Then we just carry out the terms of the will. If the will says the money goes to a certain beneficiary or the house goes to a particular individual that’s fine. Probate goes through its normal course in California the terms of the will or the observe and whoever supposed to get the California property gets the California property.

For more information or to schedule a no-cost consultation, please contact The Grossman Law Firm, APC, at (888) 443-6590.