“Probate” is the administrative process by which assets of a deceased person are accessed and transferred to the recipients of those assets specified in the deceased’s Will, or if there is no Will, to the heirs of the deceased as determined by law.
After appointment by the Probate Court, the Personal Representative, formerly known as the Executor, has the authority to access the deceased’s probate assets. Probate administration is the process of identifying and accessing the deceased’s probate assets (known as “marshalling the assets”), identifying the deceased’s debts, filing and paying taxes, paying estate administration expenses, and ultimately distributing the estate assets.
In Massachusetts, probate may involve a voluntary administration or formal or informal probate proceeding, depending on the nature and value of the deceased’s probate assets.
Probate assets are generally any assets (real estate, checking accounts, savings accounts, investment accounts, stock, savings bonds, and tangible personal property such as furniture, jewelry or a vehicle) owned in the deceased’s individual name which do not designate a beneficiary or co-owner.
A formal or informal probate proceeding typically takes at least one (1) year from the deceased’s date of death because creditors have that amount of time to file claims against the estate to seek repayment of amounts owed to them by the deceased. Additionally, the complexity of the estate assets, expenses, and relationships between the surviving loved ones can lengthen the time it takes to complete the administration of an estate.
Our Recent Webinar Probate Haunting Your Family from Beyond the Grave
(Please find the accompanying powerpoint for the Probate Webinar.)