What is probate and what does it involve?
In Massachusetts, probate is the process of authenticating a will and distributing a deceased person’s assets. The probate court oversees the process and makes sure that the will is valid and that the deceased person’s assets are distributed according to their wishes. Probate can be a lengthy and complicated process, so it’s important to have a clear understanding of what it entails before getting started. Here are the top five things you need to know about probate in Massachusetts.
Fees for filing a petition for probate and publishing notice of the proceedings can add up quickly. And if the estate is complex or there is disagreement among heirs, additional costs may be incurred for attorneys, appraisers, and other professionals. The length of time it takes to probate an estate depends on many factors, such as the size and complexity of the estate, whether there is any disagreement among the heirs, and whether all of the required paperwork is in order. In some cases, it can take several years to complete the probate process.
Once an estate is opened for probate, all of the documents filed with the court are public records. This means that anyone can request copies of the documents and view them online or in person at the courthouse.
In Massachusetts, probate is only required for estates that exceed certain value thresholds. For example, if the deceased person owned real estate in their name alone, probate will likely be required regardless of the value of the property. However, if the deceased person held all of their assets in joint ownership with someone else or in a trust, probate may not be necessary.
What can you do to avoid probate in Massachusetts?
In some cases, it may be possible to avoid probate altogether by using one of the many estate planning strategies available. For example, setting up a revocable living trust can help ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes without having to
Several estate planning strategies can help you avoid probate in Massachusetts. One of the most common is to set up a revocable living trust. With a revocable trust, you can transfer ownership of your assets to the trust while you’re still alive. Then, when you die, the assets in the trust will go directly to your beneficiaries without having to go through probate. Other strategies that can be used to avoid probate include gifting assets during your lifetime and naming beneficiaries on accounts such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts.
If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to the laws of intestate succession. Under these laws, your spouse and children will inherit your assets. If you have no spouse or children, your parents, siblings, and other relatives will inherit your assets. If you have no living relatives, your assets will go to the state of Massachusetts.
Can probate be avoided if all of your assets are in joint ownership with someone else? In some cases, yes. If all of your assets are jointly owned with someone else, probate may not be necessary. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if you own real estate in your name alone, probate will likely be required regardless of who else is on the title. While it’s possible to file for probate without an attorney, it’s not recommended. The probate process can be complex and time-consuming, so it’s best to have a professional on your side to help guide you through the process.
Who pays for probate fees and expenses incurred during the process?
Generally, the estate will be responsible for paying for all probate fees and expenses. However, in some cases, the court may order the executor or administrator of the estate to pay these costs out of their own pockets.
Once an estate is opened for probate, the executor or administrator of the estate will be responsible for paying all debts and expenses of the deceased person. This includes funeral and burial expenses, taxes, and any other debts owed by the deceased person. The executor or administrator will also be responsible for distributing the assets of the estate according to the terms of the will or, if there is no will, according to the laws of intestate succession.
If you’re named as executor or administrator of an estate, it’s important to understand your role and responsibilities before starting the probate process. Probate can be complex and time-consuming, so it’s best to have a professional on your side to help guide you through the process.
In Massachusetts, probate is overseen by the Probate and Family Court
The court has a website with information about the probate process, forms that need to be filed, and fees that must be paid. The Probate and Family Court also offers a self-help center for people who are representing themselves in probate proceedings. The center has information about the probate process and forms that can be used. It also offers workshops on various topics related to probate. Yes, you can file for probate without an attorney. However, it’s not recommended. The probate process can be complex, and it’s best to have a professional on your side to help guide you through the process.
At Dowley Law, we have years of experience handling probate matters in Massachusetts. We can help you navigate the probate process and ensure that all of the necessary paperwork is filed promptly. We can also help you avoid probate altogether by using one of the many estate planning strategies available. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.