Ancillary Probate in Maine

– by Stevens & Day
The term “ancillary probate” is often uttered with dread – so much so that a good estate plan will often take avoidance of ancillary probate into account. That being said, if you find yourself in the position of needing to deal with property in the state of Maine, the ancillary probate process is relatively painless.

What is ancillary probate?
Ancillary probate is the process used to distribute property when someone dies owning property, typically real estate, in a state in which they are not a resident. This is a relatively common situation in Maine, where out-of-state residents may own a vacation home or other real estate.

How does ancillary probate work in Maine?
When an out-of-state resident dies owning property in Maine, their executor or personal representative is appointed in their home state. That executor, however, does not have the authority to distribute or sell real estate in Maine. The solution to this problem is found in ancillary probate, which gives the executor authority to dispose of the real estate that is in Maine. Generally, ancillary probate involves having probate proceedings pending simultaneously in each state; but in Maine, the process is most often a simplified version.

Maine’s simplified process
Rather than opening a new probate estate in Maine to dispose of this property, the Probate Code offers a process whereby an out-of-state executor can be granted authority to act in Maine. Typically, Maine property can be disposed of by filing notice with the Probate Court in the county where the real estate is located. With this notice, the out-of-state executor is given authority to dispose of the real estate.

This can be accomplished by working with a Maine attorney and providing some documentation from the home-state court to the Probate Court located in Maine. Technically, this is not ancillary probate but, rather, recognition of the out-of-state executor. In more complicated situations, true ancillary probate, which involves local administration of an estate, may be required in Maine.

When an out-of-state executor is authorized to act in Maine, they can dispose of real estate as if it was in their home state. This includes distributing property to heirs and devisees under the terms of the will, selling real estate in Maine so that the proceeds can be distributed to heirs and devisees, or more complicated actions like placing family homes and camps into LLCs or trusts for the family to use for generations.

If you have questions regarding ancillary probate in Maine or are an out-of-state executor or out-of-state attorney assisting with probating an estate and need help with this process in Maine, please give us a call at 207-430-3288. We have helped a number of non-Mainers deal with their Maine property and are happy to help you through this process.

Contact Stevens & Day, LLP

82 Winthrop St.,

Augusta, ME 04330