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Understanding ancillary probate in Texas

Dividing and distributing property after a loved one’s death can be a stressful and complex undertaking. This is certainly true if the decedent owned extensive assets or failed to clearly establish a will. Either way, the estate may enter probate court, where representatives will be appointed to notify heirs, record an estate inventory, pay any debts and execute the appropriate property transference.

This process can become even more complicated when it involves property the decedent owned in different states. In such cases, ancillary probate may be applicable, and there are several things everybody should know about this process and its implications for estates in Texas.

Estate is subject to two courts

According to the Bexar County Probate Courts, which serves the San Antonio area, the court handles issues relating to the wills and property of deceased persons in the area. The court presiding over an area where the decedent owned property will also be concerned with administering the probate, however. It is important to maintain compliance with the standards established in both jurisdictions.

You may need two lawyers

Because you will deal with two (or more) probate courts, you may need to hire more than one lawyer to represent you in each applicable state. This is important because receiving legal counsel from attorneys in each state can help you better understand how to cohesively execute the estate as a whole. Alternately, you might find legal representation that specializes in ancillary probate.

Ancillary probate may be avoidable

It is easy to see why you might want to avoid ancillary probate. It imposes unnecessary complexity and expenses on the administrators of an estate. Luckily, however, there are certain actions a person can take while planning her or his will to prevent ancillary probate—even if the person owns property in multiple states. Employing a simple living trust or designating a transfer-on-death deed can be effective alternatives.

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Jamie Graham & Associates, PLLC
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San Antonio, TX 78205

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