In most cases, the transfer of a person’s assets upon their death is handled through a legal proceeding known as probate. Probate courts are the appropriate avenue for estates with and without wills. While this process is common following the death of a loved one, it can also pose significant challenges. A skilled trusts and estates attorney could help you minimize the probate process or avoid it altogether.
Probating a will can be difficult without the help of legal counsel. The laws regarding the distribution of property are complex, and a mistake could cost you and your family dearly. Allowing a Boston probate lawyer to assist you with this process could ensure that your rights are protected.
Probate is the legal proceeding in which the court distributes the assets of an estate. Not every death will result in the opening of a probate case, and it only becomes necessary when someone leaves behind an estate when they pass. Some people can avoid probate by placing their assets in trusts that are distributed without the need for court intervention.
The probate process is necessary with or without a last will and testament. If the deceased person executed a will during their lifetime, the court would authenticate it. If there are no challenges, the court would then distribute the estate’s assets in accordance with the decedent’s wishes.
Probate is different in cases in which there is no will, which requires a process known as intestate succession. Under this process, the probate court will distribute the assets according to state law. This distribution typically depends on the relationship a beneficiary has with the party. Usually, surviving spouses and children are the first to inherit, followed by more distant relatives. Because intestate succession might not adhere to a person’s final wishes, it is best to see one of our probate attorneys in Boston if you find yourself in this situation.
The steps to begin the Boston probate process will depend in part on whether the deceased person executed a last will and testament. In both situations, the first step in the process involves filing a Petition for Formal Probate of Will and/or Appointment of Personal Representative. This document initiates the probate case and either asks the court to probate an attached will or appoint a personal representative to oversee an intestate case. In cases where a will is involved, there must also be an additional form highlighting the devisees, which are the spouses, children, and other beneficiaries listed under the will. If there is a will, either the original document or a statement of the will’s contents must also be attached.
In both cases, there must be a certified copy of the death certificate filed in the case. If there is no death certificate available, there must be a sworn affidavit attesting to the death.
Finally, in both types of cases, there must be a filing identifying the heirs at law, including surviving spouses and children. This is different from the list of devisees, which can include anyone chosen by the decedent in their will. Heirs at law are the individuals who recover assets according to state intestate succession guidelines.
Whether you are considering a plan for your estate or are a devisee of a loved one who recently passed, you should be prepared for the challenges of the probate process. Your rights are best protected with the help of a Boston probate lawyer who could address any of your concerns during probate and ensure that you avoid any errors. Call today to schedule a consultation and learn more about your options.