Many people may think estate planning is only needed when you have substantial assets or a lot of money in the bank. However, estate planning is more than just leaving heirlooms and cash; it ensures that your surviving spouse or children are cared for or that your minor dependents have a guardian. Estate planning and ancillary estate administration can also help you later in life if you become unable to advocate for your health care wishes or needs.
But in some cases, estate administration can become complex. If you have property in another state from where you reside and you pass away, it can quickly complicate matters for your heirs.
At Patriot Legal Group, we help Orlando families with estate planning, probate, and asset allocation, including ancillary estate administration. We offer professional service with personalized legal solutions for your needs.
The Basics of Ancillary Estate Administration and Heirship in Orlando, Florida
After a person’s death, all their possessions, including money in the bank, personal property, and real estate, become their estate. Even if the individual died without a will, which is called dying intestate, the estate still requires management.
Estate administration is the process of determining the extent of the deceased’s estate, paying outstanding debts, claims, and taxes assessed on the estate and then distributing the rest to the beneficiaries and heirs.
A will names an executor, someone who manages the estate administration process. Florida calls this person the “personal representative” of the deceased and they are tasked with ensuring that the terms of the will are carried out.
In Florida, the executor (also called the personal representative) must be represented by a lawyer. This person has a fiduciary duty to the estate’s beneficiaries and creditors and a legal obligation to carry out the required tasks.
If there is not someone who comes forward to handle the estate, the estate still needs to be processed; therefore, a curator will need to undertake this process. Usually, a curator is a professional with strong knowledge of Florida probate laws.
What is ancillary estate administration?
Estate administration, whether the deceased left a final will or not, goes through probate. This is a court-supervised process to ensure that the allocation of the estate and payment of outstanding debts is completed correctly and in accordance with the law.
Probate legally entails the following:
- Ensuring all assets are identified
- Inventorying all personal property
- Paying claims against the estate and outstanding debt
- Notifying any beneficiaries and heirs
- Selling property
- Filing estate and other applicable taxes
- Distributing assets
The executor (personal representative) or curator is responsible for ensuring all of these important tasks are carried out.
So what happens when you have properties that fall into multiple jurisdictions? For example, perhaps you spend most of your time in the bustling New York metropolitan area, but you have a vacation property on the shores of Florida. Which state’s laws will govern the estate process? Without a clear plan in place, things can quickly become complicated for your heirs.
In the state of Florida, if a person holds assets in Florida, but passes away while their home is in another state or even another country, the property held in Florida cannot go through typical distribution outside of the state. Instead, the ownership of the assets in Florida goes through a process that’s known as ancillary probate administration.
What assets are affected by ancillary estate administration?
Assets that can be controlled by ancillary estate administration include:
- Assets held in Florida
- Any credits that might be due to the deceased from Florida residents
- Outstanding liens on property within the state
For ancillary administration to begin, notice has to go out to any creditors of the estate, as well as any other parties who may be affected by the probate process. After any expenses and claims against the estate have been paid in full, the court can distribute any property that remains to the heirs of the estate.
Choosing a Personal Representative
Many people nominate someone they know in their will to act as the executor (personal representative). This individual must either be a family member or a Florida resident to qualify.
Nominating an executor of the will is an important decision; it is not simply choosing someone you like best. It may be better to select a professional as your representative to ensure that your estate is handled properly, even if that means a fee is paid to the professional to do so.
An estate planning attorney has the experience and knowledge required to efficiently administer your estate and reduce costly delays, thereby protecting your beneficiaries and potentially reducing any squabbling amongst relatives. In addition, a professional executor is a neutral party who will fairly manage your estate should there be disputes among family members.
Do you need an ancillary estate planning attorney in Orlando?
Part of your estate planning process is drafting a will that will be deemed valid in probate court and choosing the right executor to ensure that your beneficiaries receive what you wish. Whether you hold property in multiple states or simply within the bounds of Florida, we can help you to ensure that your final wishes are carried out.
Ancillary estate administration services are part of the estate planning services that Patriot Legal Group offers. We will help you draft a will that follows the proper guidelines or help beneficiaries through an ancillary probate administration.
In addition, we provide other essential estate planning services, such as creating a formal guardianship for your dependents or minor children or establishing a trust for your dependents.
We can also help you create a healthcare surrogate or a living will, which covers any health care directives you wish to have followed in the event you’re unable to make your wishes known. Call Patriot Legal Group today for a consultation!