Probate Administration

Probate AdministrationProbate Administration

Our office advises and represents Personal Representatives throughout the probate process. With the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code now in place (since March 31, 2012) it is imperative to be familiar with the Code to most efficiently advise clients regarding navigating the probate process.  Whether the probate filing will be formal or informal results in substantially different document preparation and filing requirements. From the initial filing of the will through the filing of all required documents to settle the estate (and all matters that arise during the process) we can advise and assist.

Settling an estate requires careful attention to detail, a thorough knowledge of the law and compassion and concern for all those involved in what is often an emotionally charged process.  If you have been appointed the Personal Representative of an estate or need assistance in a circumstance where a loved one has left property (assets) but no will please contact our firm for a consultation.  Our firm understands the importance of timely attention to the issues raised in a probate circumstance.

The process of probate

Most Personal Representatives or heirs have not been involved in the process of probating a will or managing an estate without a will.  Our firm can assist you with the complex probate process, including:

  • Filing the will, if there is one, with the proper Massachusetts probate court
  • Preparing and filing the proper probate petition and supporting documentation
  • Developing the best strategy for fairly and expeditiously probating the estate
  • Finding and collecting assets
  • Procuring an Estate Tax Identification Number
  • Closing and opening bank accounts
  • Transferring assets from the deceased to the estate
  • Preparing and filing estate tax returns and paying estate taxes (or referring to a tax professional to accomplish)
  • Obtaining release of estate tax liens
  • Selling real estate for payment of claims or for convenience and ease of distribution
  • Valuing, managing, preserving and liquidating the estate
  • Locating beneficiaries
  • Hiring experts, when appropriate

Valuing and managing the estate

Our firm can assist Personal Representatives with identifying, collecting, valuing, protecting and liquidating the assets of the estate.  As necessary we are prepared to advise you in the retention of accountants, financial advisers, real estate agents, or any other professionals as needed to assist with your fiduciary responsibilities.

Probate disputes

The emotionally charged nature of the probate process (and the family dynamics of many situations) can often result in disagreements and ultimately formal will contest disputes. Our firm can assist in the process of defending an opposition to the will if you are the appointed Personal Representative.  Alternatively our firm is ready to represent heirs or persons of interest who wish to challenge a will or oppose its proposed distribution of assets.

Please contact our firm for a free initial consultation to discuss any probate administration matter you may have.

Recent Posts

A Declaration of Homestead can provide protection for a multi-use property – Appeals Court upholds lower court decision.

Back in April of this year Attorney Christopher Knoth posted a blog reporting on a Bankruptcy court decision where the Homestead protections pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 188 were found to be available to a mixed-use property.  Last week the Bankruptcy Appeals Court confirmed that decision making several noteworthy points.

The Court specifically noted that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court had admonished (in a topic related decision) that the intended public policy and the purpose of the Homestead Act should cause courts to construe the homestead exemptions liberally in favor of debtors.  Consequently the Court held that the mere use of a residence for non-residential purposes, at least when the predominant purpose is residential, does not, by itself, preclude an exemption for the Property.

Although counsel for the appellant argued that any non-residential use of a structure would exempt it from the protections of the Homestead statute (citing that the statute itself specifically defined the properties which could enjoy the protection) the Court firmly rejected that argument (invoking our presently undefeated local professional football franchise to illustrate): “If a homeowner in Foxborough were to rent out her driveway to Patriots fans on Gillette Stadium game-days . . . it defies intuition to think she no longer lives in a single-family dwelling.”

It is still important to note that the Court did not mandate a hard and fast rule but rather indicated that evaluations (to determine a property’s “primary” use) would ultimately be made on a “case by case” basis.

This case provides another clear demonstration that a Declaration of Homestead can be an invaluable protection for Massachusetts homeowners.  The current Homestead statute even allows its filing for a property held in Trust.  Additionally, the Massachusetts Homestead Law increases (doubles) protection amounts for the disabled as well as for homeowners 62 years of age or older.

Contact our office to make sure you have recorded a Declaration of Homestead for your principal residence in Massachusetts!

Attorney Harold F. Moody, Jr.

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