Menu ${site.data.firmName}${SEMFirmNameAlt}${site.data.firmName}${SEMFirmNameAlt}
Practice Areas
Let's Get Started!

What do I have to do to probate an estate?

If you find yourself in the position of estate administrator for a friend or loved one who has passed on, you may not have a clue what duties are expected of you. That's quite understandable for those who have never before undertaken these tasks.

Naturally, the more vast the estate, the more complex the process will necessarily be. But even small estates can give administrators pause if they are unsure of the legal requirements.

This is why it's always a good idea to seek advice from a Massachusetts estate planning attorney if you're faced with such responsibilities. Below are some basic guidelines estate administrators must handle during the probate process.

-- In some situations, they must make the final arrangements for the deceased.

-- They must gather all estate planning documents like wills, revocable living trusts, burial plans and cemetery deeds.

-- Administrators locate all financial instruments and life insurance policy documents. They must come up with deeds to vehicles, homes and all other property owned by the decedent. They also should have access to the past three years of federal tax returns.

-- Settle all undisputed debts of the decedent, including the final expenses and estate administration costs. Some debts may need to be disputed in court if it's alleged or believed they may not be owed.

-- Pay the final year's income taxes owed by the decedent.

-- Maintain the assets of the estate. This should be done in the most cost-effective way and early in the process to avoid choice assets disappearing via too-eager beneficiaries or heirs.

-- Keep the heirs periodically informed about what stage in the probate process the estate is in and run interference for them with any questions.

-- Obtain accurate, up-to-date valuations on the estate assets.

Your estate attorney can file the documents to officially open the decedent's estate with the court handling probate. Make sure that your record-keeping is meticulous, as everything must be presented to the court.

At the end of the probate process, estate administrators distribute what remains of the assets to the heirs. Administrators can be held liable for any discrepancies, so work closely with your estate attorney to assure the process is done flawlessly.

Source: The Balance, "Probate Checklist - How to Probate an Estate," Julie Garber, accessed March 09, 2017

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Serving businesses and individuals throughout Massachusetts

Waltham Office
375 Totten Pond Road
Suite 200
Waltham, MA 02451

Toll Free: 888-759-5109
Waltham Law Office Map

Braintree Office
25 Braintree Hill Office Park
Suite 406
Braintree, MA 02184

Toll Free: 888-759-5109
Phone: 617-523-1555
Braintree Law Office Map

Cranston Office
200 Midway Road
Suite 159
Cranston, RI 02920

Toll Free: 888-759-5109
Cranston Law Office Map

Hyannis Office
1330 Phinney’s Lane
Hyannis, MA 02601

Toll Free: 888-759-5109
Hyannis Law Office Map

Norwood Office
520 Providence Highway
Suite 10
Norwood, MA 02062

Toll Free: 888-759-5109
Norwood Law Office Map

Westborough Office
276 Turnpike Road
Suite 228
Westborough, MA 01581

Westborough Law Office Map

Woburn Office
444 Washington Street
Suite 203
Woburn, MA 01801

Woburn Law Office Map