When people have an inadequate estate plan in Massachusetts, their case may be turned over to a probate court where officials will determine what will become of their remaining assets. Depending on the size of the deceased's estate, probate could be costly and time-consuming. People can avoid having to resort to probate by determining that they have clearly written and legally signed plans for what will happen when they pass away.
There are several problems that the intervention of probate could provide solutions to. Often, the process is begun by determining how much the deceased person's valuables are worth. Items such as properties, vehicles and family heirlooms are appraised to learn their value. Probate will also address the maintenance of financial records including paying off outstanding debts, closing existing bank accounts and verifying that all tax payments are updated and finalized.
The courts will also categorize the deceased's property and then make determinations about what will be done with each item on the list. Beneficiaries and any person named as an executor for the deceased's estate should prioritize the goal of avoiding probate by following the instructions they have previously received. Once probate is finished, the deceased person's estate can be finalized and surviving family members can move on.
If people are concerned about the condition of their deceased loved one's estate, working through the probate process may be their best option. An attorney can help guide this process and help family members make educated decisions about how to proceed.
Source: TheStreet, "What Is Probate and How Can You Avoid It?" Brian O'Connell, Jul. 29, 2019