Probate & Estate Administration
Anyone who is named the executor or administrator of a family member's estate faces a challenging job at a stressful time. Dealing with the minutia of Massachusetts's probate rules can be overwhelming. At Blake Law, our lawyers provide comprehensive probate and estate administration services. Allow us to be your guide. We will help you do right by the person who died and honor their wishes.
The purpose of probate is to transfer the title of assets—money and property—from the estate of a person who has died to the possession of living persons or organizations. If the deceased person did not leave a will, assets will pass to their legal heirs. This is known as intestate succession. Whenever somebody dies without a will, Massachusetts law will define how that property transfer occurs and who is an heir. The court will look for even quite distant family members—beyond third cousins—before it would consider passing property to the State. Without a will an Administrator is appointed by the court to handle these responsibilities.
There are very specific procedures to follow when a person dies, with or without a will. In fact, the process of probate or estate administration is very similar either way. If you are the Personal Representative (the person who will be responsible for disposing of the deceased person's belongings), you have some very specific duties as well as a legal responsibility to handle the estate in a prudent manner.
The lawyers at Blake Law are here to help you through the probate process and to ensure that you are able to fulfill your duties and responsibilities properly. We will make it as easy for you as possible. Contact our office to speak with a probate attorney about your probate and estate administration concern.
If there is a will, the Personal Representative must file the will with the Massachusetts Probate Court asking that the will be allowed. The executor then takes an inventory of the assets of the estate, seeks appraisals, and pays creditors.
A Notice of Probate is published in a local paper so that creditors can come forward to make their claims. Creditors notify the estate of their claim. This is why probate remains “open” for at least a year. That does not mean that the deceased person's assets are frozen for a year. Property can be sold, bank accounts closed, and other assets distributed. Some disbursements can be made to the beneficiaries and heirs before probate is complete. It is wise to contact an attorney to determine what assets can be distributed and when.
If the will is contested, it occurs during the probate process. The attorneys at Blake Law assist families who wish to contest or defend a will. Because of our focus on elders and mentally ill persons, we have considerable experience proving or disproving competency in the courts to ensure a beneficiary's rights are protected.
The final documents to be filed include estate tax forms with the IRS and a “Final Account” report to Massachusetts Probate Court. Once the Final Account is accepted by the Court, the executor has no further responsibilities.
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