How to Probate a Will in Massachusetts

Probate is the legal process through which a decedent’s (deceased person’s) will is validated and their assets are distributed according to their wishes. If you’re the personal representative or beneficiary of a will in Massachusetts, understanding the probate process is crucial. This blog post provides a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the probate of a will in Massachusetts.

Step 1: Locate the Will

The first step in the probate process is to locate the original will. Typically, the will is kept in a safe place such as a fireproof safe, a safety deposit box, or with the decedent’s attorney.

Step 2: File a Petition for Probate

Once the will is located, you must file a Petition for Probate with the Probate and Family Court in the county where the decedent lived. The petition should include the original will, a certified copy of the death certificate, and other required forms.

If the probate assets (i.e. assets owned by the decedent individually) are under $25,000, you can file a simple Voluntary Administration Statement (MPC Form 170).

If the probate assets exceed $25,000, you will need to file a Petition for Formal/Informal Probate.

Step 3: Notify Interested Parties

Massachusetts law requires that all interested parties, including heirs, beneficiaries, the Department of Medical Assistance, and creditors, be notified of the probate proceedings. This is typically done by sending a citation, which is a legal notice published in a local newspaper and mailed to all interested parties.

Step 4: Appoint a Personal Representative

If the will names a personal representative, that person will be appointed as the personal representative of the estate. If there is no will or the named executor is unable or unwilling to serve, the court will appoint a personal representative.

Step 5: Inventory and Appraise Estate Assets

The personal representative is responsible for inventorying the decedent’s assets and obtaining appraisals for property values. This includes both probate assets (those that are part of the estate) and non-probate assets (those that pass outside of the will, such as life insurance or joint bank accounts).

Step 6: Pay Debts and Taxes

Before distributing assets to beneficiaries, the personal representative must ensure that all debts, including funeral expenses, taxes, and other outstanding bills, are paid from the estate.

Step 7: Distribute Assets to Beneficiaries

Once all debts and taxes have been paid, the remaining assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will.

Step 8: Close the Estate

After all assets have been distributed, the personal representative can file a final account with the court detailing all financial transactions made during the probate process. Once approved, the estate can be officially closed.

Contact Logan & Logan LLP For Probate Of Estates In Quincy, MA

Probating a will in Massachusetts involves several steps and legal requirements. While the process can be complex, understanding each step can help ensure that the decedent’s wishes are honored and their assets are distributed properly. It’s often advisable to seek the assistance of an experienced probate attorney to guide you through the process and help address any legal challenges that may arise. Contact our expert attorneys at Logan & Logan LLP today for a free consultation: (617) 209-3723.

*Please note that this guide is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice. Each probate case is unique, and it’s important to consult with a qualified attorney for guidance specific to your situation.

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