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You may never have heard of ancillary probate and have no idea what it means. However, if you are the administrator of an estate of a person who owned property in Florida, ancillary probate is a topic you may have to deal with. Therefore, you should understand what it means and how it applies to the situation.

Ancillary probate becomes an issue when a resident of another state dies and his or her probate assets include property in Florida. Probate courts can only handle property that is in their jurisdiction. Therefore, in addition to the primary probate in the decedent’s state of residence, ancillary probate is necessary for any property held in Florida.

What types of property qualify for ancillary probate?

Ancillary probate is necessary for any Florida real estate in the decedent’s will. This includes rental properties, vacation homes and timeshares. It also includes property titled in Florida, such as a fishing boat or yacht.

When can you initiate the ancillary probate process?

Ancillary probate cannot begin until after the start of the primary probate process. This takes place in the state where the decedent lived. Therefore, once the primary probate process is in motion, ancillary probate can begin.

Can you administer the ancillary probate if you do not live in Florida?

If the decedent named you as the administrator of his or her estate but you do not live in Florida, state law refers to you as a foreign personal representative. Florida law requires that you meet qualifications to administer the ancillary probate. As long as you meet these qualifications, you can administer the ancillary probate even if you are a foreign representative who does not live in Florida.

However, you cannot administer the ancillary probate if you do not meet Florida’s qualifications. In this scenario, an alternate or successor who meets the qualifications would handle the process. If there is no qualified alternate or successor designated in the will, those with a major interest in the property can choose a qualified representative of their own.