Category Archives: Probate/Estate Administration

I’m The Executor Of An Estate, Do I Have to Go To Court?

When a client comes to me because they have been appointed the executor of someone’s estate (Massachusetts now refers to executors as “personal representatives”) they often want to know if they will need to go to Court and stand in front of a judge as part of the process.

In Massachusetts, in an attempt to streamline the process and make sure that people with actual disputes have access to the judges, the courts allow the paperwork that is needed to open an estate to simply be mailed in.  It can also be walked-in to the appropriate department, although the Probate Courts close at 3pm so this is not always convenient for people. Once the court receives the paperwork, it is reviewed by a magistrate and if there are no issues or missing documents, the papers appointing the person as personal representative will be mailed to them.

The only time a judge would need to get involved, and the parties would need to appear in court, would be if there was an actual dispute. This could be a disagreement over who should serve as personal representative, a dispute over the validity of the will, or asking the court to help determine the meaning of an ambiguous clause in the will.

In general, however, all of the work that needs to be done with the court for an estate can be done by mail and you won’t ever need to stand in front of a judge.

Probating A Will In Massachusetts

If you have been appointed as the personal representative (formerly called the executor) of someone’s will in Massachusetts, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the job. The legal requirements and responsibilities of the job are not minor and you may find yourself in difficulties if certain steps aren’t followed. While in general it is bestContinue Reading

How Long Does Probate Take In Massachusetts?

As a Hingham elder law attorney, I am often asked by clients “how long will this take” when they begin probating a family member’s estate.  (Probate is essentially the process by which certain property passes from a deceased person to their heirs and beneficiaries.)  Like many things in life, it depends. Some of the timeContinue Reading

“Can I Get Paid As Executor?”

Serving as executor, or personal representative (PR) as they are now called in Massachusetts, of someone’s estate can be a time consuming job. It involves inventorying the estate, locating and marshaling the assets, filing tax returns, meetings with attorneys or accountants, fielding questions from heirs and making distributions. Even in an uncomplicated case it canContinue Reading

Leaving A Memo or Letter With Your Will

Your Will is the place where you distribute certain types of property after your death. Anything that has a joint owner (like a house or a bank account) or a named beneficiary (like a retirement plan or insurance policy) will pass to the joint owner or beneficiary upon your death. Your other property is distributedContinue Reading

Probate In Massachusetts – What Information Is Needed?

Probate is the process by which property passes from someone who has died to that person’s beneficiaries or heirs.  It’s a paperwork driven process involving the Court system. If you have been named the executor of an estate, there is certain material you will need in order to open and close the estate. What informationContinue Reading

The Importance of Keeping Good Records

If you are managing money for someone else, whether as a trustee, conservator or executor it is very important to keep good records. You may be held accountable to the Court or other interested parties for the work you are doing and your job will be easier if you have good records. In addition toContinue Reading

How To Change Attorneys

I will sometimes get clients who are leaving, or have left, their current attorney due to a problem with the attorney/client relationship.  Sometimes they will meet with me before they have formally ended their relationship with their other attorney, and they have questions about how to do that.  This post is to guide you throughContinue Reading

Completing a Probate Inventory

If you are appointed the executor or administrator of someone’s estate in Massachusetts, you will be required to complete and file with the court an Inventory.  An Inventory is a form that the court will send you after you have been appointed, usually with the decree and certificate which shows that you are the executor.Continue Reading

How To Get Your Original Will from an Attorney

Attorneys will sometimes keep a client’s original will in their file. Years later, a client may want to obtain this will because they have moved or changed attorneys and want to revoke their old will.  The best way to obtain your original will from an attorney who has it is to send a request toContinue Reading