What is an ancillary estate proceeding?

In our country today, it is not at all uncommon for a person to live and, ultimately, die as a resident of one state while having property in several states, including Oklahoma. Assuming the property involved requires estate administration and probate, it may mean that a personal representative in another state may have to complete an ancillary estate proceeding here in Oklahoma.

One of the most common reasons ancillary estate proceedings are necessary in Oklahoma is that a person owns some sort of interest in Oklahoma real estate, such as mineral rights in a tract of land. In this situation, the deceased person’s personal representative or executor will have to petition an Oklahoma court in order to get the land properly transferred to the deceased person’s lawful heirs or intended beneficiaries.

Fortunately, ancillary proceedings do not mean a personal representative and the family of the deceased have to go through full-blown processes in two different states, which may be hundreds of miles from each other. For one, the Oklahoma ancillary proceedings would only apply to property that is both in Oklahoma and subject to probate.

For example, if someone held a piece of property in Oklahoma as a joint tenant with rights of survivorship, that property would likely not need to be probated at all, since the surviving tenant would automatically get the property. Moreover, an ancillary proceeding is not the time or the place for family members to contest a will or, in most cases, raise objections to the way the estate is being administered. It does not give aggravated parties a second bite at the apple when the primary probate proceeding is happening in another state. The only goal of the ancillary proceeding is to determine whether property should be transferred so probate can be fully carried out.

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