Probate has acquired a rather bad reputation. As you’ll see, there are some very good reasons for this. However, it will be helpful to start with a brief definition: Probate is a legal process for settling debts and distributing assets after a person passes away.
That may sound simple enough, but navigating the probate maze in Massachusetts is anything but simple. On average, it takes 9-12 months to complete the process, and in certain situations, it takes considerably longer. Probate is also a public process, meaning anyone can get information about the decedent’s debts, assets, and more. As for what the process entails, here is just a partial list of the duties typically required:
- Inventory estate assets
- Notify next of kin and anyone named in the will (if there is one) about the decedent’s passing
- File all paperwork with the court throughout the probate process
- Appraise and manage all estate property
- File federal and state tax returns and pay any taxes due
- Transfer the titles of all real property
- Facilitate the transfer of all probated assets to new owners
Accomplishing all of this would be difficult enough without the added stress and grief that accompanies losing a loved one. Even so, people sometimes try to do it themselves. They often fail to meet the court’s requirements and have to start over. Ultimately, most people in Massachusetts hire an attorney to manage part or all of the probate process for them.
At the Law Office of Alexis B. Levitt, we can lift the burden of probate off your shoulders so you can focus on what is most important: coming to terms with the loss of your loved one.
Trusts are among the most powerful tools in the estate planner’s toolbox. Avoiding probate is just one of a trust’s many potential benefits. However, a trust must be properly administered to accomplish the grantor’s planning goals after he or she passes away. Like probate, trust administration carries with it a host of duties and responsibilities. In addition, the trustee can be held financially and legally accountable for mistakes, even if they were made unintentionally.
Whether you are faced with probating an estate or administering a trust, we can guide you through every stage of the process. We understand what you and your family are going through during this difficult time, and we are here to help.
We invite you to contact us to schedule a planning session to discuss your specific needs and goals.