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The Probate Process in Massachusetts

While people may have heard of probating a will, they may not be certain exactly what the process involves. The probate process follows a specific procedure, allowing the administration of the estate and distribution of the assets to the designated beneficiaries.

Upon the testator’s death, his or her will is admitted to the court by the named executor. If an executor has not been named, when the will is admitted the court will appoint one. After the case opens, interested parties to the will may then challenge either the entire will or specified provisions. If a will contest is filed, the court will have a hearing in order to determine the will’s validity. If the will is judged to be valid, the executor will then begin administering the estate.

Estate administration involves the executor accounting for all of the assets and liabilities of the estate. He or she will pay all of the taxes and notify the decedent’s creditors. The creditors may then seek payment from the estate’s proceeds within a specified time. After a full accounting and after all of the expenses and debts have been paid, the executor will then distribute the assets to the beneficiaries according to the will’s provisions.

When planning how to handle their estates, some people may wish to avoid probate by using different types of tools, such as trusts, in order to pass assets. They do this because unlike wills, trusts are not subject to probate proceedings. People who are wondering about whether they should try to avoid the probate process by choosing other vehicles may wish to speak with an estate planning attorney.

Source: American Bar Association , “The Probate Process“, December 03, 2014

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