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What happens to a snowbird’s Florida home?

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2022 | Firm News |

Florida is one of the most popular escapes from winter weather. That is why many people become “snowbirds” who essentially migrate to Florida once the weather in their home state turns.

Many snowbirds purchase property out in Florida to make their seasonal trip a little bit easier. However, owning property in two different states can cause some complications of which aging parents – and their families – should be aware.

Consider this situation

An individual’s primary residence is in Michigan, where their family resides for most of the year. They also own a vacation home in Florida, where they stay throughout the winter months.

When this individual passes away, their loved ones now face an overwhelming amount of grief while also addressing the individual’s estate and beginning the probate process in Michigan. However, owning property in two states can complicate the administration of that individual’s estate. This situation would require the personal representative to begin ancillary probate as well.

What is ancillary probate?

An ancillary probate process is often necessary if individuals own property in two states. It is a secondary probate in addition to the case in the home state.

Essentially, there are two things to know if a loved one owns property in two states:

  1. Administering their estate – including the vacation home in Florida – will require two probate cases.
  2. These processes will be governed by different rules and laws – the home state’s rules for the primary probate, and Florida’s rules for ancillary probate.

The process can be complicated. The personal representative must obtain authority to act under Florida’s rules, and there are different types of ancillary probate depending on the value of the property.

What can families do?

There are ways to address this situation both in the process of estate planning and administration. The key is to:

  • Be aware of all of your loved one’s assets, in and out of state
  • Discuss your loved one’s wishes, if possible
  • Understand Florida’s laws regarding ancillary probate

Understanding and preparing for this kind of situation can be critical to reducing stress and risk for snowbirds and their families.