The loss of a loved one is a devastating time for family and friends. Not only does this time come with strong emotions, but also with a long list of financial and legal arrangements. In most cases, family members are responsible for handling their loved ones’ finances and beginning the probate process.
If you need guidance with probate, our team at Marsden Law P.C. is here to help. Contact our Metro West Boston estate planning attorney today at (800) 828-7854!
What Is Probate?
Probate is the process in which a deceased person’s property (or estate) is passed to the heirs and beneficiaries listed in their will. The family has to work with a probate court during the entire process. Probate can take up to a year, depending on the size and complexity of the estate.
In most cases, the person responsible for overseeing the probate process is the person appointed as the executor or personal representative in the will. If a person passes away without a will, the process can be a bit more complicated. If you are having difficulties with your probate process, our team at Marsden Law P.C. can help you.
When Is the Probate Process Required?
In the state of Massachusetts, the probate process is required to transfer property and ownership of assets after a person passes away. You will likely have to go through probate if you need to:
- Find out if the decedent’s will is valid
- Change ownership to real estate or personal property
- Pay the decedent’s creditors
- File the decedent’s tax returns
- Get the decedent’s medical records
You won’t likely need to go through the probate process if the decedent’s property will automatically transfer ownership or if they held a trust.
What Should I Do to Prepare for the Probate Process?
Below we have put together a general guideline of what you will need to prepare for the probate process.
- Notify Necessary Parties: You don’t need to take immediate action after a loved one’s death. It’s important that families have time to grieve before diving into probate legal issues. However, you should notify Social Security about your loved one’s death at most a month after their death. You will then need to authenticate your loved one’s last will and testament to the probate court.
In general, the deadline to probate an estate in Massachusetts is three years after the decedent’s death. However, this deadline doesn’t apply to voluntary administration, determining heirs, or an ancillary (additional) probate proceeding.
- Secure Tangible Property: Another step you can take to prepare for the probate process is to secure the tangible property. Once probate begins, you will need to determine accurate values of each piece of property, which may require appraisals so that they can be distributed properly. It’s important to ensure that the property isn’t moved, or it will be difficult to set values to assets.
- Meet with an Attorney: An essential step to take before the probate process begins is to speak to an experienced attorney. A probate attorney can guide you through the probate process from start to finish. When you meet with an attorney, you should provide them with as much information as possible about your probate case. They can help you organize related documents and help you understand any confusing legal papers. Trying to navigate the probate process on your own can be challenging, so having an attorney on your side will be extremely helpful.
If you need guidance with your probate case, contact our Metro West Boston probate attorneys today at (800) 828-7854 to schedule a case review!