How to Avoid Probate in Massachusetts
Having your assets tied up in the probate court process leaves your loved ones dealing with a complicated and potentially expensive headache. Luckily, you can avoid probate by planning ahead.
When you pass away without preparing to avoid probate, your estate is distributed amongst your surviving beneficiaries or heirs by going through the legal process of probate. During this time, your will is verified, a personal representative is designated, creditors file claims against the estate, and your remaining assets are delivered to your beneficiaries.
Probate fees can be expensive, diminishing what you intended on leaving your family, and the probate process can be quite time-consuming. When you strategize now, you can avoid having your assets tied up in probate for months or longer. In a time of mourning and grief, remove the additional stress of probate from your family by reaching out to The Heritage Law Center and Matthew Karr, Esq.
Create a Revocable Trust
A trust is a legal document in which a trustee is named to manage your assets. As the grantor (person who created the trust), you can be named the trustee.. The trustee’s role is to manage the assets in the trust for the designated beneficiaries.
A successor trustee is also named and that person can be anyone that you wish to choose, from a family member to a friend. You can also select a professional trustee such as a lawyer or an accountant, or a trust company or corporate trustee for this key role.
Real estate, bank accounts, investments, and valuable personal property, among other assets, are transferred into this trust. The revocable trust is very flexible and can be changed or revoked during the grantor’s lifetime. Based on this declaration of trust, assets will be distributed by the trustee according to the trust’s directions at the time of the grantor’s death. This helps mourning families avoid the need for probate.
This comes with many benefits. Your estate will avoid the time and cost of probate. Trusts are private documents, unlike wills which are available to the public due to the probate process. Also, a trust goes into effect once it’s created and funded, so its assets will be managed if the person who created the trust becomes incapacitated.
Joint Ownership of Property
Ensuring a specific person is taken care of, like your spouse, may be one of your top priorities when estate planning and trying to avoid probate. Joint tenancy can help. This joint ownership means two or more people share ownership of the property, each with an undivided equal interest. That way, if one person passes away, their ownership interest goes by operation of law to the surviving owner(s). This automatic transfer means you don’t have to worry about probate.
Married couples in Massachusetts can file tenancy by entirety. Each owner has an undivided interest in the entire property, and when one spouse dies the surviving spouse automatically owns the entire property, which keeps the property out of probate.
Designations for Bank Accounts and Investments
Massachusetts allows payable-on-death designations on bank accounts where you will name a beneficiary. While living, you remain in full control of your finances. Ownership only transfers when you pass away.
Similarly, designating beneficiaries on stocks, brokerage accounts, or bonds makes them transfer-on-death accounts. Funds are directly transferred staying out of probate.
Naming a Beneficiary
By naming a beneficiary to your assets proactively, you may be able to avoid probate. You can name who will benefit from assets such as life insurance and retirement accounts at your time of death.
Make sure you keep track of which beneficiary receives what. This will make it easier for you to realize if you want to make changes later.
Avoid Probate by Planning Ahead with Our Attorney
Thinking about what happens when you’re gone can be scary, but knowing there is legal documentation and your assets are in order can provide peace of mind. You want to leave your loved ones taken care of, not deal with the headache of probate.
Luckily, there are many avenues to avoid probate. By speaking with our lawyer and getting documentation in order, you can ensure that your wishes are honored in the distribution of your property, money, and valuables.
Connect with our experienced attorney at The Heritage Law Center today for a free consultation. Our team can be reached by calling 617-299-6976 or completing the online form below.