In addition to planning a burial, funeral, or another memorial service after the death of a loved one, family members are also tasked with dividing up the decedent’s benefits and assets and distributing them amongst beneficiaries. However, this is not always easy to do, nor are family members always permitted to simply initiate the process unsupervised; instead, probate may be necessary. At the law offices of Deborah Gold-Alexander, Attorney at Law, our experienced probate attorney can guide you through the probate process and represent your best interests.
What Is Probate?
Probate refers to the court-supervised process of paying a decedent’s debts, gathering the decedent’s assets, paying any taxes, and distributing property and assets amongst beneficiaries. The process also involves proving the validity of a will, should a will exist.
What Assets Have to Pass Through Probate?
Probably isn’t always necessary, and not all of a deceased’s assets have to pass through probate. To be sure, usually, only the assets that a deceased owned in their name only have to pass through probate; assets owned in joint tenancy, such as a house that is owned by a married couple, do not have to pass through probate. Other assets are protected from the probate process, too, including retirement accounts, payable-on-death accounts, and other accounts for which a beneficiary has been named outside of a will, as well as life insurance benefits and assets that are held in a trust.
If the deceased didn’t die with any real estate holdings and only a small value of assets, a simplified probate process may be possible. Talk to your attorney to learn more about simplified probate in Massachusetts.
Who Manages the Probate Process?
Probate can be a tedious and complicated process, and is not one that the average person looks forward to with much gusto. If the deceased person left a will, the person who will be responsible for managing the probate process, known as the personal representative, will be the party named as such in the will. If no will exists, then the personal representative will be appointed by the court; the person who has priority for this appointment is the decedent’s surviving spouse. The personal representative will be responsible for:
- Taking inventory of all of the deceased’s assets;
- Paying any taxes owed by the deceased;
- Paying any of the deceased’s debts;
- Distributing property per the terms of the will – if no will exists, the property should be distributed per the laws of intestate succession in Massachusetts; and
- Closing the estate.
How a Massachusetts Probate Attorney Can Help
Navigating the probate process on one’s own can be confusing and overwhelming. When you call Deborah Gold-Alexander Attorney at Law, you can count on a skilled probate lawyer who has over 30 years’ experience managing probate filings and other estate-related matters. Please reach out to Deborah Gold-Alexander Attorney at Law online or by phone today to learn more and start the probate process immediately.