Popularly known as the favorite destination for retirees and “snowbirds” running from cold weather in the North, the state of Florida has been one of the most sought-after places for out-of-state residents.
When a non-resident dies owning assets in Florida, a local court will adjudicate the case to oversee the distribution/inheritance of any assets titled solely in the decedent’s name held within state jurisdiction – a process designated as ancillary probate.
In this article, you will find out a checklist of the documents necessary to file for ancillary probate in Florida.
Florida Ancillary Administration – Understanding the Process
As provided by Florida Statutes §734.102 (1), “if a nonresident of this state dies leaving assets in this state, (…) a personal representative specifically designated in the decedent’s will to administer the Florida property shall be entitled to have ancillary letters issued, if qualified to act in Florida.”
Therefore, a case may qualify for ancillary probate:
- If a non-resident dies and leaves real estate in Florida
- If a non-resident dies and leaves liens on property located in Florida
- If a non-resident dies and leaves credits due from residents in Florida
- If a non-resident dies and leaves an interest share in a Florida business
- If a non-resident dies and leaves a car, boat, or mobile home titled by the state of Florida
Ultimately, the decedent’s assets located in Florida will be distributed to their respective beneficiaries only upon the conclusion of the ancillary administration.
When adjudicating the case, the probate court must designate a personal representative to execute the non-resident’s estate in Florida. If the person designated in the non-resident’s will is not qualified or cannot fulfill the role, an alternative successor will be designated.
Ultimately, if there is no person qualified to act as a personal representative, the beneficiaries with a significant interest in the decedent’s estate will select a personal representative under statutory rules.
What Documents Are Needed for Ancillary Probate in Florida? – In Detail
The basic documentation to file for ancillary administration in Florida include:
- The non-resident’s last will
- Letters of Administration
- Petition to probate
- An official order admitting the will to probate
- Two certified death certificates attesting the non-resident’s passing
Depending on the context, the court might need additional documents, such as:
- Copies of all deeds to property owned by the decedent located within the state
- A full inventory of the decedent’s property
- A document listing the name and address of all beneficiaries with an interest in the deceased non-resident’s estate
- Copies of tax bills for any real property owned by the decedent in Florida
Florida Ancillary Probate Does Not Need to be Overwhelming
If you are a non-resident in Florida and own property within state jurisdiction, it is possible to structure a cost-efficient estate plan to avoid ancillary probate (or any type of probate proceedings).
However, if there is no time left and you are a relative or friend of a non-resident who died owning property in Florida, the only way to ensure a stress-free ancillary administration is to work with an experienced probate attorney.