When it comes to wills and estates, there are always people talking about probate. Probate gets a bad connotation because so many people talk about instances where it takes a long time and causes a lot of disruption. In reality, this is not true of most cases. It greatly helps to understand a little more about probate, so if you have a loved one who's estate will go to probate, you will then know what to expect.
One important element to remember about estate planning is that it is rarely a singular process. Wakefield residents asked to serve as executors or personal representatives may be asked to continue to serve in (or return to) the roles over a period of months, years or even decades. This is especially true in cases involving intellectual and artistic assets, as the future use of those assets will have to be done with the permission (and at times, the oversight) of the estate. In certain cases, litigation may even result of an estate-protected element's representation.
Losing a loved one can make daily life very challenging or even seem unbearable. Entire families may be overwhelmed with emotional pain and other hardships that surface in the wake of a loved one's passing, such as financial difficulties and estate matters. Whether you are the executor of your loved one's estate or you are a beneficiary, this may be a difficult time. However, it is critical for you to make sure that you properly handle any responsibilities you have and do what you can to make this tough time a little bit easier.
At Curley Law Firm LLP, we understand that the Massachusetts laws regarding the estate of a person who died without a will can seem complex. If your loved one did not designate someone to take care of his or her financial and personal property, the responsibilities of probate administration fall to the spouse. However, you may want to step in and take care of these responsibilities to lessen the stress for the spouse during this time of grieving.
Whether you have a will or not, when you die, someone has to take over the duties related to legally closing your Massachusetts estate (unless all your assets are jointly owned or distributed to beneficiaries named in, for example, life insurance policies, retirement accounts or trusts). This estate administrator, known as your personal representative, has many responsibilities while probating your estate.
If you are the executor of an estate that exceeds the Massachusetts exclusion amount of $1 million, you may have some questions about paying the estate taxes.
When it comes to probate, a plethora of questions may be on your mind and you may need to focus on various facets of the law. For example, many people move forward with filing an informal probate petition, while formal probate is necessary for others. Moreover, you may need to take a different approach depending on whether your loved one died with a will or without a will. If you are filing a formal probate petition, there are a number of pointers that may be helpful for you to go over.
Many probate issues can complicate life for beneficiaries and executors alike, but allegations that an executor has breached their fiduciary duties are very serious. Some of the time, these accusations are true and an executor did fail to respect his or her fiduciary duties. For example, an executor may have intentionally chosen not to distribute the assets of an estate appropriately. On the other hand, there are times when these allegations are altogether false, whether a beneficiary does not understand what was put forth in the estate plan or intentionally launches a false accusation. Curley Law Firm knows how hard these standoffs can be for both sides and the impact these disputes can have on families.
All sorts of complications may arise when it comes to estate matters, but those involving disagreements with beneficiaries can be particularly complex. Whether you are setting up a trust, have been named an executor, or are a beneficiary of your loved one's estate, it is vital to handle any disputes appropriately. In Wakefield, and other cities across the state of Massachusets, these disputes have created all sorts of problems for entire families. Our law firm knows that in some instances, disputes between beneficiaries and executors have even torn families apart.
Whether you are having difficulty deciding which type of trust will serve your needs best or you have uncertainty about naming beneficiaries, the estate planning process can be complex. Moreover, there are certain key terms, such as intestacy, you may not be familiar with, which could have a significant impact on your property, depending on your circumstances. For example, those who do not have estate plans in place at the time of their death may have their property distributed in a way which would have gone against their wishes.