Probate often cited in estate planning: What exactly is it?

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Some Massachusetts estates need to be probated, and others don’t.

What accounts for the difference?

That query actually drives this fundamental question: What is probate?

Probate administration in Massachusetts and other states is a process that focuses on a number of matters relevant to property, the rights of heirs, estate debt, taxes and related issues.

Readers having some familiarity with the process might note that a key purpose of probate is securing a court’s confirmation that a will is valid.

That is certainly true. Beyond that, though, the probate process focuses upon several additional matters. As noted in a Massachusetts government website discussing probate essentials, those centrally include these considerations:

  • Dealing with property distribution when asset transfer (regarding realty, a life insurance policy, savings/retirement accounts and so forth) is not by right of survivorship or otherwise passed directly to another party by operation of law
  • Handling creditors’ claims
  • Filing estate tax returns
  • Appointing a personal representative when necessary

No probate process is the same. Some estates that are probated can be settled comparatively quickly and easily. Others, conversely, can be fraught with complexity, especially when heirs emerge to make competing claims to estate assets.

An experienced estate administration attorney well versed in the probate process can play a key role in helping estate principals effectively work through probate issues and legally close an estate.

In some instances, proven legal counsel can play a beginning-to-end role in probate that closely attends to all important points. At other times, a probate attorney can provide assistance on matters that are selectively raised by a client.

Questions or concerns regarding the Massachusetts probate process can be directed to an established Boston-area estate administration lawyer.

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