Probate is the process which must occur following most deaths in Massachusetts. It can be a complicated process, but it is an important one in order to make sure a last will prepared by a deceased person is legally valid. There are also other steps taken during the probate process besides validating a will, which are equally important. These steps include things like providing notice of the death to creditors and beneficiaries; addressing tax issues; and going through the formalities of transferring property to new owners.
Whether you are an executor who has been named in a will and put in charge of overseeing the estate, or whether you have any other type of involvement with the probate process, it is important to understand how probate works and what your role is within this process. The best way to make sure you comply with legal obligations and follow the proper procedures during probate is to talk with an experienced probate lawyer. An attorney helps executors fulfill their roles; beneficiaries to protect inheritances; and those contesting wills to make arguments for why a will is not valid. Attorneys are there to try to make sure the wishes of the deceased are respected and assets are properly transferred to beneficiaries in a timely manner.
The Law Offices of James A. Miller, P.C. can provide assistance with all aspects of probate. Contacting us for personalized advice as soon as possible after a death is advisable. You can give us a call at 866-370-3888 or contact us online to find out about the help w can offer. We have also prepared some important probate resources for you, which you can make use of during the probate process.
Resources for Probate in Massachusetts
When probate occurs, court paperwork must be filed by executors in appropriate courts, and a variety of legal steps must be taken to wind up the affairs of the estate. These resources can help you to be prepared for the probate process:
- The Probate & Family Court Page for the Massachusetts Court System: This page provides a link to probate topics, an address and telephone number for the main administrative office in Boston, and a wide variety of links which you can follow to learn more about the probate court system in the state of Massachusetts.
- The Probate & Family Court Fee Schedule: This resource provides information on the costs of taking certain actions in probate court in Massachusetts. For example, the cost for a general petition for probate is $150 plus a $15 surcharge. If a petition is submitted seeking the appointment of a special personal representative, the cost is $375 plus a $15 surcharge. You can see a complete list of all court fees by clicking on the Uniform Fee Schedule PDF.
- Probate Forms from the Massachusetts Court System: Those who have pending matters before the Massachusetts courts may access the forms they need right on the Internet. There is a pulldown menu which allows you to select from court forms related to different topics, as well as a pull down menu which allows you to select forms by court. You can also search by keyword if you have a good idea of what form you will need to access.
- The Worcester Probate and Family Court: There are multiple probate and family courts located throughout the state of Massachusetts in order to serve different counties. An estate has to be probated in the appropriate county court system. For those in Worcester, MA, for example, probate will generally take place in the Worcester Probate and Family Court. This website for the Worcester Probate and Family Court provides details on directions to the court, public transportation, and other basic information.
- The Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code: This is found in Chapter 190B of the Massachusetts General laws. Within this Chapter, there are many rules and regulations set forth to govern the probate process. There are rules on intestate succession which determine who inherits property if a deceased person dies with no will. There are also other details on issues such as probate jurisdiction and trust administration.
- The Massachusetts Estate Tax Guide: When someone passes away, estate taxes may be assessed. Massachusetts has laws on estate taxes, and the federal government has laws on estate taxes as well. Understanding these laws is important during probate in order to discover what obligations the estate has to pay taxes.
- The Probate Guide from the American Bar Association: This resource provides some basic information that can help you to better understand what probate is, whether it should be avoided, and what will happen during the entirety of the probate process. The ABA is a national organization, while probate laws differ by state, so you should be careful to follow the rules in Massachusetts and not assume this guide will necessary include everything that you need to know. It is, however, a good overview of probate and of what you can expect if you are unfamiliar with what the probate process is likely to entail following a death.
These resources can help you to get a better idea of what to expect during probate, what the process will entail, and what you should do to make sure that you fulfill your role and honor the person who has passed away.
Getting Help with Massachusetts Probate
While these resources can give you some good information about the probate process and can help you to understand your role within it, there is never a substitute for having a knowledgeable advocate advising you about your own specific situation.
If you want an attorney on your side to provide you with help during probate, give us a call at 866-370-3888 or contact us online to speak with a Massachusetts probate lawyer. The Law Offices of James A. Miller can provide invaluable help at all stages of probate, whether you are an executor, beneficiary, or concerned friend or relative. Reach out now to learn more.