Answers To Commonly Asked Probate Questions
It is not uncommon for people to have questions about probate and related areas of law. Please see some of these questions below and contact attorney Richard Boudreau for answers. Your consultation is free.
How do I manage an estate?
If your loved one died with a will, you must take steps to begin the probate process. If a Personal Representative is named in the will, that person will handle probate and other related concerns. If they died without a will, the surviving spouse or heir will likely be the Personal Representative.
It is typically best if Personal Representatives work with an experienced probate lawyer to manage the estate. While the basic steps may seem simple, they must be carried out correctly, and it may be hard to determine whether probate is necessary. Let an attorney with over 35 years of experience guide you through this process.
Should I obtain the death certificate right away?
Yes. You should get the death certificate as soon as possible so you can get a Personal Representative appointed and assure you are not locked out of any financial accounts, insurance and other accounts. If you are unable to access your accounts, it may be because it is not a joint account. In that case, you will not be able to access the account unless the Personal Representative of the estate is designated by probate court.
What is probate like in Massachusetts?
There are three types of probate in Massachusetts.
Formal: There are numerous reasons you might need to go through formal probate such as:
- Real estate is involved
- The need for a judge to sign Court orders
- Incapacitated adults or minors who need representation
- Informal probate is not an option
Typically, Formal Probate takes more time to initiate but you have more flexibility in having the court resolve issues that may arise. A lawyer is highly recommended for this type of probate.
Informal: This process may take less time to initiate, if all requirements for filing are met. Informal probate requirements generally include:
- Possession of the official death certificate
- Possession of the original Will, if there is a Will
- All heirs and devisees are known and consent
- Conservators and guardians are not the parties filing for probate
While informal probate is usually quicker to start, you may still run into obstacles that require a lawyer’s help.
Voluntary administration: This is possible if the estate’s worth is not over $25,000. It must also not include any real property.
What is the estate tax in Massachusetts?
Estates valued at under $2 million do not owe Massachusetts estate taxes. If the estate is over $2 million, you will pay estate taxes according to a scale up to 16% of the estate’s net value. If you are in this situation, you want an experienced probate attorney on your side.