Managing the probate process for an estate can be complicated, and even more so when the decedent lives in one state and owns property in another. If a member of your family dies while owning property in multiple states, an Arizona ancillary probate may be necessary.
Arizona Probate & Ancillary Probate Explained
Many people use estate planning strategies to avoid probate. If not done correctly, there may be property that must pass through the probate court system.
Because a court can only address property in its own jurisdiction, a court in one state cannot act on property in another state. An ancillary probate is filed when the deceased person owns property in one or more jurisdictions other than the one in which they died.
When Is Ancillary Probate Necessary In Arizona?
Let’s say your Great Aunt Lily dies in Duluth, Minnesota. She owned a home in Minnesota and a vacation home on five acres of ground in Chandler, Arizona. She had a will that is being probated in Minnesota by her family. The bulk of her estate will be probated in Minnesota, if necessary. But how will the Arizona property be distributed? And it’s not just real property that may require an Arizona probate filing. If Great Aunt Lily owned personal property in Arizona (bank accounts or investments), it may also need to be included in the Arizona court filing.
So, when the personal representative or executor in Minnesota learns of the Arizona property, whether real or personal, what’s next?
Personal Property In An Ancillary Probate
In the case of Great Aunt Lily, the executor may have an easy job if she only owned personal property in Arizona. The executor first informs the court that he or she is the authorized personal representative of the estate in Minnesota.
Then, in the form of an affidavit, the executor lets the court know:
- “The date of the death of the nonresident decedent.
- That no local administration, or application or petition therefor, is pending in the state.
- That the domiciliary foreign personal representative is entitled to payment or delivery.”
After court approval, the executor takes possession of the personal property. The procedure is different, though, when real property is involved.
Arizona Real Property In An Ancillary Probate Matter
The executor must file a local probate court action: either a proof of authority or a full ancillary probate.
A Proof of Authority is a simplified procedure allowed in Arizona for the foreign personal representative to obtain the legal power to collect or sell Arizona real estate for a decedent from another state. This is a probate matter filed in the county where the property is located. There are no creditor notices, no publication requirements, no notices whatsoever. No inventory is required and no closing statement is needed once the foreign executor is finished with the Arizona estate work. The entire process typically takes our office about 30-60 days to complete (though we can expedite the service in a matter of days when needed, for example, to save a real estate closing date).
In Great Aunt Lily’s case, this may be available to her family. Her personal representative will follow the court requirements and obtain an Arizona court-certified proof of appointment as personal representative of the Minnesota estate. Once approved by the court, the executor has the same responsibilities and duties of any executor in Arizona. These duties include locating the property, managing the property, and properly distributing the property to the rightful heirs.
If the simplified procedure is not available or simply not appropriate (as would be true if the Arizona property, real or personal, was in need of longer term management), the Great Aunt Lily’s Minnesota personal representative would file an ancillary probate in Arizona. This operates much like a regular probate matter, with legal notices, inventory of assets, marshaling of assets, accountings, and a closing statement when all work is complete. This can be a 12-24 month process, even in good circumstances. But just as with regular probate, it doesn’t take that long for the foreign personal representative to obtain their AUTHORITY to do business in Arizona, which usually happens within 30 days or faster when needed. After the authority is obtained, the tasks mentioned above have deadlines spanning out over the next 6-12 months.
Having A Local Arizona Advocate Helps
No matter where you are located, we can handle your Arizona ancillary probate case. Feel free to call us at (480) 418-8448 to receive your free case evaluation. You will not be billed unless you hire us. Located in Chandler, Arizona, we handle probate matters across the entire state including Gilbert, Sun Lakes, Tempe, Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, and Apache Junction.