Probate Administration Lawyer in Massachusetts

The pain associated with losing a loved one can be exacerbated when there are complexities and unanticipated challenges associated with the will and distributing assets. The probate process can be costly, drawn out, and emotionally charged.

As an estate planning and probate administration law firm with more than 80 years of experience, Casey Lundregan Burns, P.C. can help you with every step of the probate process

What Triggers the Probate Process?

First, if you’re unfamiliar with probate, it is a legal process that involves validating a will and distributing assets according to the instructions in the will. If someone dies without a will, they are said to have died “intestate,” and the probate process works similarly.

However, the difference between probate with a will and intestate succession is that when there is no will, Massachusetts statute dictates who gets what from your estate.

The most common reasons why the probate court would be involved in administering your estate assets include the following scenarios:

  • You die without having a valid will
  • Your estate is subject to a guardianship or conservatorship
  • The will needs to be validated
  • The estate owes creditors, or tax returns need to be filed
  • The will is being disputed by heirs or creditors

The estate assets subject to probate may include real estate, vehicles, personal belongings, and investment vehicles or instruments. For estates without any assets other than personal property, probate may be avoided.

Critical Steps for Probate in Massachusetts

There are several steps that must be followed during the probate process in Massachusetts. Some steps are more complex than others, and each has specific instructions and deadlines.

  1. File a petition with the probate court
  2. Notify all heirs named in the will with relevant information, including court dates
  3. Appoint a personal representative
  4. Take inventory, value, and re-title assets
  5. File necessary paperwork, including estate documents and tax returns
  6. Identify and verify creditors with valid claims against the estate
  7. Distribute assets

Can Probate Be Avoided?

Clients who have heard horror stories about probate often ask if there is any way that probate can be avoided. Careful estate planning that includes the following measures may allow an estate to avoid probate in some situations:

  • Forming a trust that holds your assets for beneficiaries to prevent the assets from being counted as part of your estate
  • Owning property classified as joint tenancy with a right of survivorship
  • Setting up automatic transfers of property on death for estate assets such as retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and bank accounts
  • Creating life estates for real property

Depending on your estate, the time and expense of taking measures to avoid probate might be disproportionately costly. The law firm of Casey Lundregan Burns, P.C. can help you plan a path moving forward and determine whether it makes sense to try to avoid probate.

Contact an Experienced Massachusetts Probate Administration Attorney

For more than 90 years, the attorneys at Casey Lundregan Burns, P.C. have assisted Salem, Massachusetts, residents with estate planning and estate administration, including probate administration and litigation. To start a free case evaluation, contact us today.