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Can You Probate a Foreign Will in Texas

Ancillary probate is a legal process used when someone dies with assets in a state other than the state where they lived. It is a supplementary probate process that is required in addition to the main probate proceedings in the decedent’s home state. Ancillary probate ensures that the non-resident assets are properly distributed to the correct beneficiaries. However, it can be a costly and time-consuming process. The good news is there are several ways to avoid ancillary probate in Texas. The Law Offices of Kyle Robbins, PLLC, can help you ensure that your family receives your assets in compliance with your wishes and state law. Contact us today.

How To Avoid Ancillary Probate in Texas

Probate is a legal process that makes sure the proper people get the decedent’s property. Only certain assets must go through probate. You can often avoid probate by transferring ownership of your assets before death. Many estate-planning tools are available to help you do this while still maintaining control of your property. You can keep using your Texas real estate as loan collateral, work on it, or rent it out during your lifetime while ensuring it passes to your family outside of probate.

Here are some common ways to avoid ancillary probate in Texas:

  • Create a living trust. When you transfer your property into a living trust, it will be managed by a trustee during your lifetime. Upon your death, the trustee will distribute the assets to the named beneficiaries without the need for probate.
  • Title assets with survivorship rights. When you title your property with survivorship rights, the assets pass automatically to the surviving co-owner without having to go through probate. Examples include joint tenancy with the right of survivorship or community property with the right of survivorship.
  • Use Payable-on-Death (POD) and Transfer-on-Death (TOD) designations. Many financial assets, such as bank accounts, investment accounts, and stocks, can be titled with a POD or TOD designation. These assets pass directly to the designated beneficiary upon the account holder’s death without the need for probate.
  • Use beneficiary designations. Life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and annuities also allow you to name a beneficiary. The assets in these accounts pass directly to the named beneficiary after the policyholder’s death and do not have to go through probate.

By using a combination of these tools, it is possible to avoid ancillary probate in Texas and ensure your assets are received by the intended beneficiaries in a timely and efficient manner.

How Does Ancillary Probate Work? 

The probate court determines essential facts, like a will’s validity, the estate representative’s qualifications, and the identities of the beneficiaries. When a person dies in another state but owns property in Texas, and they leave a will, their will is considered a foreign will that must go through ancillary probate. For example, suppose your loved one lived in California and owed a vacation home or oil rights in Texas. You must file for ancillary probate before the beneficiaries can take ownership of that property.

There are several steps you must take to complete ancillary probate in Texas. First, the personal representative files the will for probate in the decedent’s home state. A probate court in that state authenticates the will in an original probate proceeding. Then, the personal representative files a copy of the authenticated will with the Texas court and requests Ancillary Letters Testamentary. Ancillary Letters mean a Texas court has granted the personal representative authority to execute the will and administer the part of the estate located in Texas. The Texas court can also resolve any issue affecting the Texas property, including identifying the proper beneficiaries. 

What Assets Are Subject To Ancillary Probate? 

All real and personal property located in Texas that is distributed by a foreign will must go through ancillary probate to transfer ownership after death. This includes real estate, oil and gas holdings, mineral rights, and livestock. Intangible assets, like bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and shares of stock in closely held corporations, do not need to go through ancillary probate. That is because intangible assets belong to the person in their home state, even if the financial institution or business is in a different state.

How The Law Offices of Kyle Robbins, PLLC, Can Help

We understand that the probate process can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate, especially when dealing with the emotional turmoil of losing a loved one. Kyle Robbins and his legal team are here for you when you wonder, Can you avoid ancillary probate in Texas? We help Texas families put plans in place that avoid or simplify probate. Our attorneys use a collaborative approach to create novel solutions for complex estate issues. We can help you fund a living trust, add survivorship rights to your home, or add payable-on-death designations to your bank account. We can also help you coordinate the beneficiary designations on your life insurance and retirement plans with the rest of your estate plan. And if your loved one died in another state and you need help with ancillary probate, our Texas probate attorneys can help you through that process. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you with all of your probate and estate planning needs.

Author Photo

Kyle Robbins

Kyle Robbins is the founder and sole owner of The Law
Offices of Kyle Robbins. He received his J.D. with honors from the University of Texas School of Law and his B.S. in Food Chemistry and Microbiology from Oklahoma State University.

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