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Probating small estates

On Behalf of | May 20, 2019 | Probate & Estate Administration |

The probate process can indeed prove costly the longer it takes an estate case in Wakefield to be resolved. Yet the court does not want to see one’ assets eaten up in probate, leaving nothing to settle a decedent’s debts and liabilities or to pass on to their heirs. Thus, special circumstances exist that may allow estates with lower overall values the opportunity to expedite the process and settle their cases faster.

The most common of these is a summary probate procedure. Section 190B.3-201 of Massachusetts’ General Laws details the process for petitioning for such a procedure in the state. First off, one’s estate can only consist of personal property that has an overall value of less than $25,000 (separate the value of the decedent’s vehicle) in order to qualify. If the estate does qualify, then any interested person can file a petition with the court after 30 days has passed since the decedent’s passing. The estate then enters a waiting period that is purposely truncated compared to standard probate proceedings. Creditors are allowed to file claims against the estate during this waiting period. Once it has passed, the person who petitioned for the summary probate procedure must then settle the estate’s debts and then disperse its remaining assets to designated beneficiaries.

The person petitioning for a summary probate procedure must file the decedent’s will (if any) alongside their petition, and must include both an inventory of the estate’s assets and a list of the decedent’s heirs with said petition.

According to Section 190B.3-203 of the state’s statutes, a summary probate procedure may also be available if the value of the decedent’s estate does not exceed their family allowances and exempt property, as well as the costs associated with their death and funeral.