Ancillary Estates In Pennsylvania

For most people, the probate process following the loss of a loved one is overwhelming, tedious, time-consuming, and mentally draining. Sometimes, the law requires multiple estates to be opened and administered in addition to the estate opened where the decedent lived. These estates are typically referred to as “ancillary estates.” When a person dies owning real estate in a state other than where that person resided, a second “ancillary estate” must be opened in the state where the real estate is located.  Dealing with ancillary probate adds yet another stage to an already-painful probate process, yet it’s important to understand the rules and nuances.

For example, when an out-of-state resident dies while owning real estate in Pennsylvania, ancillary probate is needed because real estate is legally controlled and governed by the laws of the jurisdiction, or state, where the real property is located and cannot be administered through a different state’s probate process.

How Do I Open an Ancillary Estate in Pennsylvania?

The ancillary estate can be opened in any county in Pennsylvania where the decedent owned real estate.

If an out-of-state decedent left a valid will and that will has been admitted to probate in the decedent’s home state, then pursuant to Pennsylvania Statutes Title 20 Pa.C.S.A. § 3136 (Wills probated outside the Commonwealth), a copy of the decedent’s duly authenticated will be admitted to probate in their home state, can be offered for probate in Pennsylvania and an ancillary estate opened, if the will is accompanied with an authenticated copy of the probate proceedings of the decedent’s home state showing that the will has been admitted to probate in that state.

If an out-of-state decedent did not leave a will, then the personal representative appointed in the decedent’s home state can open an ancillary estate in Pennsylvania by producing an exemplified copy of the personal representative’s appointment as such by the decedent’s home state pursuant to Pennsylvania Statutes Title 20 Pa.C.S.A. § 4101.

In addition to the above, the personal representative will need to file a Petition for Grant of Letters with the Register of Wills for the county in Pennsylvania where the decedent owned real estate.

One of the aforementioned nuances is that an out-of-state fiduciary may not exercise their powers in the Commonwealth until one month after the decedent’s passing. Pennsylvania inheritance tax may be owed on the property the decedent owned in Pennsylvania and a Non-resident Inheritance Tax Return will need to be prepared. Where the personal representative of the Pennsylvania ancillary estate is the personal representative of the decedent’s estate in their home state, then the personal representative is required to keep the funds from the Pennsylvania ancillary estate separate from the funds of the decedent’s estate in their home state.

A Probate Attorney Can Help With the Nuances of Ancillary Probate

As if the probate process weren’t complicated enough, ancillary probate adds yet another layer of complexity to the process. Still, it’s important to thoroughly follow the ancillary probate process to ensure the beneficiaries receive all of the assets due to them in a will or even through the state’s inheritance laws.

Here at Goodwin Como, we understand the laws and even the small nuances of both typical probate and ancillary probate. We work hard to accommodate our out-of-state clients to ensure constant communication and cut down on their travel as much as possible.  Contact a probate attorney at Goodwin Como online or call us at 724-438-1616 for your free consultation.