Here in Michigan, when a nonresident of the state dies and leaves behind assets which are in the state, the courts may designate a personal representative specifically nominated under the decedent’s Will. They may also designate another person if they deem someone else to be more suitable under the circumstances. The Court will issue ancillary Letters of Authority stating that the personal representative is qualified to act here in the state.
Some states do try to make things more streamline for out-of-state executors who are already handling the primary probate estate. If you have already been named an executor and need to open an ancillary probate estate, the court may expedite the process of becoming the ancillary executor. The second state may only require you to file your letters of authority from the primary estate, and a copy of any will admitted in that state. That may be enough for the ancillary probate judge to simply give you authority to handle the ancillary probate estate without much hassle.
Administration of property will be handled in accordance with Michigan probate law, taking into account all debts, taxes and beneficiaries. All property, debts, and tax payments must be accounted for by the personal representative, just as it would under any traditional estate. The designated representative for the ancillary property has all of the rights, duties, authority and responsibilities of any other personal representative in Michigan, to effectively settle and manage the estate.
Administering these “out of state” assets can be problematic if a proper estate plan was not previously prepared. It can also be difficult for executors that may have to deal with probate laws and proceedings in several different states. There are oftentimes variations in the law between different jurisdictions making administration confusing and time consuming. Each state’s unique probate laws could mean completely different results during the course of administration of each estate. Because of variation in the intestacy laws, “heirs at law” in one state may be different from the heirs in another state. These confusing variations oftentimes requires the hiring lawyers in multiple states to sort out the different state laws, judges, and court procedures, in different jurisdictions.
Avoiding these hassles may oftentimes be solved with simple estate planning mechanisms like living trusts. Trusts may allow you to put properties located in several states, into one trust in order to possibly avoid probate, eliminate probate fees, and streamline administration.
If you have questions about handling out of state property, handling property within the state if the decedent died in another state, or how to avoid problems with ancillary estates, call us at Hewson & Van Hellemont to discuss your duties and options.