When a loved one passes away and has left a will, their estate must go through a court-managed proceeding called probate where the will is verified, a personal representative is appointed, and the assets are recorded and then distributed according to the will. If someone legally contests the will (raises a formal objection), it’s referred to as probate litigation.
The probate process itself takes a lot of time and can be very costly. The cost and duration of probate depend on many factors, but typically most estates are settled within 12 to 18 months if there’s no litigation involved. Probate expenses include executor’s fees, attorney’s fees, accounting fees, court fees, appraisal costs, and surety bonds.
Avoiding Massachusetts probate is often the goal of my clients who have been through the probate process before. There are several steps you can take to keep your assets out of the probate court and in your loved ones’ hands.
Some assets can avoid probate by simply filling out the right paperwork. IRAs, certain pension funds, and bank accounts can all avoid probate by having a designated beneficiary listed with your financial institution. In this case, those assets will automatically become the property of your beneficiary after proof of your death has been given.
Other assets, like your home and other real estate, will need to go through probate unless they have been transferred to a trust during your life. All assets held in trust avoid the probate process whether the trust is a living revocable trust or an irrevocable trust. The key here is to plan ahead.
We can help you create an estate plan that reduces the time, expense, and frustration associated with probate as much as possible. Contact us today for a no-cost, confidential consultation by calling (617) 299-6976 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.