We recently covered what the probate process is and how it works in Maryland. But we covered the subject in hypotheticals that assumed the person who passed away (the decedent) lived, died, and only owned property in the state of Maryland. But what if that’s not always the case?
In some cases, a person passes away as a resident of one state, leaving behind assets that are located in another state. What is the executor or Personal Representative to do in that situation? If dad passes away in Texas, leaving behind a vacation beach condo in Ocean City, MD titled only in his name, how will the probate process be affected? On the other hand, if mom passes away in Maryland, but owns a car registered in Arizona, how will the probate process be affected then? Do the executors/personal representatives of these estates need to do probate in all the states where the decedent lived or had assets? Do other Wills need to be created?
The answer lies in the Ancillary Probate process. Ancillary Probate refers to a probate proceeding in another state, other than the state in which the decedent resided full-time. This process comes into play in cases such as the Texas dad’s above, with the condo in Maryland. In this case, the ol’ man passed away in Texas, where he called home. He owned a house, a car, held down a job and filed his taxes in the Lonestar State. But when he wanted to relax and let loose, he escaped to the warm, sunny climes of Ocean City, MD where he purchased a condo solely in his name. The condo was all but forgotten until it was time to start the probate process. Daunted by the thought of having to open not one, but two probate estates, the executor called an attorney. Good news: while in most other states, the executor would be required to open an estate in Texas and an ancillary estate in the state where the real property was, in Maryland it’s much simpler.
Instead of opening an ancillary estate with the Register of Wills and filing all the necessary paperwork that goes with it (petitions, inventory of assets, accounting documents, etc.), the Texas executor can simply file an Application to Fix Inheritance Tax with the Maryland Register of Wills and pay the nominal fee that goes along with it. Once that is approved, the Texas executor will be granted the authority to transfer the ownership of the Maryland condo to the appropriate beneficiaries of dad’s estate.
What about mom’s car?
Ah yes, mom and her mysterious Arizona Gremlin. Unlike dad from Texas with a condo in Maryland, mom lived in Maryland and had a car in her name registered in the state of Arizona. What was she even doing in Arizona?
Anyway, unlike the Texas/Maryland situation, the Maryland/Arizona case won’t go through the Ancillary Probate process and won’t have to worry about opening an ancillary estate, either. Ancillary estates only pertain to real property owned in another state (think: condos or houses), not personal property or even financial assets that were left in an out-of-state bank. The Maryland executor will have to follow the typical probate process: open an estate in the county in which mom resided, notify creditors and wait out the six-month claim period. Following mom’s death, the Maryland executor will need to locate the Arizona vehicle and turn in the tags and registration to the MVA. After that, the executor can sell the vehicle, open up an estate-controlled bank account and deposit any money made off the sale of the vehicle. If after the six-month claim period is up, there is still money left in that account, it will need to be divided up fairly to the beneficiaries, in accordance with mom’s Will.
Is your head spinning?
It’s okay if it is. It’s not your job to understand this stuff. It’s ours. So, let us help you. We say it over and over again, but it can’t be said enough: hiring an attorney now to assist you with your estate planning needs will help your family tremendously in the long run. If you are an executor of an estate and you feel like you’re in over your head, we can help with that, too! Give Ferrante & Dill, LLC partner and Estate Planning & Probate attorney Jennifer Dill a call today at (410) 535-6100 or send her an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.