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Probate is the common term for the legal process that is more formally known as the administration of the estate of a deceased person, also known as a decedent. While it is challenging to think of handling legal matters during the difficult time after a loved one has passed, it is an important process to resolve claims and distribute property in accordance with the will, or, if there is no will, according to intestacy laws.
Aside from probate matters in the state or country were the decedent resided, there is also the “ancillary administration” regarding those individuals with probate issues in another state or country. An ancillary administration is a secondary administration of a deceased person’s estate in a state or country other than the one in which the decedent lived. The purpose of the ancillary administration is to dispose of property owned in the non-resident state or country when there has already been a main or domiciliary administration in the state or country where the individual lived.
Ownership of properties in multiple states or countries poses an added layer of complexity as it then involves the laws of the state or country in which the property is located, not the laws of the place where the property owner claimed residency. For example, if you live and own a home in Germany, but also own a home in Florida, the laws concerning the probate of these two properties differ.
If a nonresident of Florida dies leaving assets in Florida, including liens on property located in Florida, an ancillary administration of that property will take place in Florida in order to transfer title to that property (F.S. s. 734.102).
A person who meets certain qualifications as provided by Florida law may act as the personal representative of the estate for the purposes of ancillary administration (F.S. ss. 731.301-731.302). Generally, a nonresident may act as the personal representative if he or she is a spouse or other relative of the decedent (F.S. s. 733.304). The personal representative is also known as the executor or administrator in other jurisdictions.
In order to administer the estate in Florida, a petition must be filed with the court containing authenticated copies of the domiciliary administration as necessary to show the will, petition to probate the will, order admitting the will to probate, and the authority of the person acting as personal representative. If no will exists the petition should include authenticated copies of the domiciliary administration to the extent that they show the petition for administration and the authority of a personal representative. A decedent’s will may also be admitted to probate in Florida if the will meets the requirements of Florida law. (Fla. Prob. Rule 5.470).
Ancillary administration proceeds similarly to an ordinary administration in Florida. Florida law also provides for a short-form ancillary administration when the decedent dies testate (with a will) and leaves property subject to administration in Florida with a total value not more than $50,000 (F.S. s. 734.1025).
We encourage you to explore our websites – www.urbanthier.com (United States office) and www.urbanthier.de (German office) to learn more about Urban Thier & Federer, P.A., Urban Thier & Federer, Rechtsanwälte, and their attorneys and practice areas. Urban Thier & Federer, P.A.’s representation of buyers includes litigation of cases in state court, federal court and arbitration proceedings. We encourage you to become informed of your rights and options. You should also ensure that any law firm you consult or retain to represent you has the experience, resources and ability to take your case through trial and appellate courts, if necessary.
Please note that Urban Thier & Federer, P.A. does not represent you and cannot take any action on your behalf unless and until you enter into a formal written Legal Representation Agreement.
Christian T. Fahrig