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What happens when a beneficiary dies during probate?

Handling the final affairs of an estate can have its complications. Even if certain aspects seem straightforward, events could transpire that make the process more difficult. For instance, if a beneficiary dies before receiving an inheritance from a Massachusetts estate already in probate, that matter may seem complicated to address.

If a beneficiary does pass before the probate process of an estate is completed, the inheritance may pass on to that beneficiary's estate. If the deceased beneficiary had a surviving spouse, the assets may pass directly to that person. However, in other scenarios, the inheritance may pass to the beneficiary's estate and then have to go through probate to determine to whom the inheritance passes to next. If the beneficiary had created an estate plan of his or her own, the information in that plan may help determine what happens to the inheritance.

If the beneficiary did not have an estate plan, state intestate laws will likely come into play. States typically have an order of succession that is followed for distributing assets for estates that have no will associated with them. Of course, complications such as this often open the door to potential disputes, which will need handling effectively if they arise.

The death of a beneficiary during the probate of an estate can affect several people. As a result, it is important that the executor of the estate distributing the inheritance follows the correct steps, and it is important for the executor or representative handling the deceased beneficiary's estate to handle the situation correctly as well. Because it can be difficult to know what to do, it is wise for Massachusetts residents to have legal assistance.

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