We regularly represent and advise people who have been appointed by the court to be personal representatives responsible for the administration of estates of people who have died. One scenario in this context arises when someone who is not domiciled here in Colorado dies, usually in another state, but leaves Colorado real estate or personal property that he or she owned within Colorado.
In this case, we can advise a foreign personal representative on the procedures to transfer ownership of the Colorado property to the estate and then to the appropriate, usually out-of-state heirs or beneficiaries.
Ancillary administration: real property
Usually, a probate court proceeding is filed in another state to either probate the decedent’s will or to ask the court to determine the legal heirs or beneficiaries if the person died without a will. In that proceeding, the court will appoint a personal representative responsible for administering the estate. (Alternate names for a personal representative in some other states include administrator or executor.)
The foreign personal representative will take an inventory of the decedent’s property and when it includes real property like buildings or land in Colorado, he or she can seek advice and representation of a Colorado probate lawyer in order to file for ancillary administration here.
Ancillary probate administration is a court process through which the foreign personal representative obtains permission to carry out his or her responsibilities as they concern the decedent’s real estate within Colorado. Ancillary administration affirms the authority of the foreign personal representative that was given to him or her by the court of a sister state.
Normally, ancillary administration will be requested of the state court in the county of the land in question. If there is real estate in more than one county, ancillary probate will need to be filed in each of those counties.
Basically, the out-of-state personal representative may file “proof of authority,” consisting of authenticated copies of the official documents from the out-of-state court that appointed him or her personal representative of the decedent’s estate there. Normally if there is a will involved, it will also have to be filed with the Colorado court.
The court will issue to the foreign personal representative a certificate of ancillary filing of the deceased person’s estate. This certificate, along with the out-of-state court’s appointment letters and the personal representative’s deed are the documents needed to transfer the title of the Colorado real property.
Colorado law also allows the foreign personal representative of a nonresident who has died to perform certain acts in Colorado without filing documents with the court, provided 60 days have passed since the person died. To do so, the foreign personal representative must present adequate proof of his or her appointment and an affidavit stating the date of death, that no probate proceeding has been started in Colorado and that the foreign personal representative is entitled to receive certain property.
If these documents are property presented, a Colorado person may:
- Pay a debt owed to the estate to the foreign personal representative
- Give personal property (non-real estate) that is rightly part of the decedent’s estate to the foreign personal representative.
- Transfer any legal instrument “evidencing a debt, obligation, stock, or chose in action” (right to file a lawsuit) that belongs to the estate to the foreign personal representative.
Seek legal guidance
Today we provide a broad introduction to ancillary probate. Each estate left by a deceased person can raise complex legal issues that should be analyzed by an experienced Colorado attorney for advice and resolution.