Passing Titles & Ownership of Assets
If a nonresident of Florida dies with assets in Florida, including real property, notes or liens, or intangibles in Florida, an Ancillary Administration may be required to properly pass title/ownership of the assets. See Florida Statute §734.102(1).
The “domiciliary administration,” sometimes also known as the principal or primary administration occurs in the state that the deceased individual (decedent) is domiciled (permanent residence). When assets of a decedent are left in another state, the probate in the other state is referred to as the ancillary administration.
If any assets are located in Florida, including real property, and tangible and intangible personal property, an ancillary administration may be proper in Florida. See Florida Statute §731.106(1)-(2), and Saunders v. Saunders, 796 So.2d 1253 (Fla. 1st DCA). The ancillary administration is necessary in Florida, as only Florida courts have authority to direct the disposition of the assets located in Florida. Another state court’s decision with regards to probate will not have any biding effect on a Florida ancillary administration; even such that a will that was undisputed in the domiciliary administration may be challenged in the Florida ancillary administration. See In re Estate of Barteau, 736 So.2d 57 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999).
If an ancillary administration is necessary, an attorney licensed to practice law in Florida is required by the courts to represent the personal representative. Florida Probate Rule 5.030(a). An exception to the attorney requirement is if the personal representative remains the sole interested person.
A decedent’s will may be admitted to probate in Florida if it was executed in compliance with Florida law or with the laws of the state or country in which it was executed (except for holographic or nuncupative wills). See Florida Statute §732.502(2). A will not properly executed under the laws of the domiciliary state, can still be admitted to probate in Florida if compliant with Florida’s execution rules. A holographic will, which is a handwritten will signed but without any witnesses, will not be admitted to probate in Florida, even if the domiciliary state permits it. See Lee v. Estate of Payne, 148 So.3d 776 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013).
A foreign personal representative that provides “authenticated copies of probated wills or letters of administration duly obtained in any state or territory of the United States may maintain actions in the courts of [Florida].” Florida Statute §734.101(1).
Generally, an ancillary administration will take six to nine months to complete, depending on the complexity. If the assets subject to probate qualify for a short or ancillary administration, then the process can be completed in six to eight weeks.
- When Ancillary Administration is Needed
- Ancillary Personal Representative’s Powers and Duties
- Issuance of Ancillary Letters of Administration