When someone who is living in North Carolina dies (the decedent), her estate must be probated in North Carolina in the county where she lived. Frequently, the decedent owned property located outside of North Carolina. For example; she may have retired to North Carolina but kept her savings account in a Pennsylvania bank or kept her home in Pennsylvania and it needs to be sold.
When these situations come up the personal representative or executor is required by law to inventory and evaluate all the decedent’s property, including property located outside of North Carolina. However, property owned by the decedent, located outside of North Carolina must follow the estate administration laws of the state where the property is located. Continuing with our example, that means that the personal representative must follow the laws of Pennsylvania to properly inventory and evaluate the proceeds from the sale of the home located in Pennsylvania. In order to accomplish this, ancillary probate will have to be filed in any state where the decedent owned property.
Because most states, including North Carolina, do not allow non-citizens to act as personal representative or executor, the North Carolina personal representative will have to appoint an agent for the out-of-state ancillary probate. In our example this would mean that the North Carolina personal representative would have to find a trusted relative or friend or an attorney in Pennsylvania to oversee the ancillary administration occurring in Pennsylvania.
Once ancillary administration is completed, any assets (excluding real property but including proceeds from the sale of real property) which were part of ancillary administration outside of North Carolina must be transferred and delivered by the ancillary personal representative to the North Carolina personal representative for administration and distribution.
The process of overseeing both the administration of the North Carolina and ancillary probate proceedings can be complex and difficult and require a deep understanding of intestacy laws. Personal representatives who are unfamiliar with these laws should hire experienced counsel to offer guidance to accomplish probate in a timely manner without mistakes or delays that can occur with inexperience.