If you agreed to be the executor of a family member's will, you may not have truly understood what duties you are expected to perform upon his or her death. The Massachusetts probate process requires that certain steps be taken before the estate can be distributed and considered closed. Below are the basic steps that must be taken during the administration of an estate.
Many Massachusetts residents look forward to retirement and make sure that they plan for it. However, they fail to plan for what comes after retirement -- the probate process. Moreover, retirement plans could be interrupted by an illness or accident. Failing to plan for either of these possibilities could lead to other problems in the future.
Careful planning when one is of sound mind and body can help to ensure that one's desires and intentions are properly carried out upon one's death. Organization of one's finances and assets ahead of time also benefits a person who becomes mentally or physically incapacitated and no longer able to govern his or her own estate. A professor of finance from a university outside of Massachusetts published a recent article about the benefits of taking a financial inventory for the purpose of future estate administration.
It might be difficult for Massachusetts fans of Robin Williams to believe that it has been nearly six months since he passed away. He attempted to set up a conflict free estate plan that provided for the people he loved, but that has not stopped his heirs from finding their way into court. The contentious probate process is not over the big assets that he owned -- instead, it is about his personal items.
By now, most Massachusetts residents are aware that the circumstances surrounding Joan Rivers' death may be suspect. For this reason, Rivers' daughter, Melissa Rivers, has retained counsel to file a medical malpractice claim against the party or parties believed responsible for her mother's death. The way that Joan Rivers structured her estate plan, estate administration should not have been necessary. However, now that a lawsuit regarding her death is being initiated, it is required.
When Massachusetts residents are creating their estate plans, one of the most important decisions they have to make is who to appoint as the executor of their estate. In making this crucial choice, it may be helpful to understand the role that an executor plays in estate administration. Here is an overview of an executor's responsibilities.
The purpose of an estate plan is to be sure that family is aware of how a Massachusetts resident's estate is to be administered in case of incapacitation or death. In order to effectively do so, family needs to know about every asset the individual owns, including digital ones. Without this information, crucial assets and liabilities could go unnoticed.
Without an up-to-date estate plan, there is little to no guarantee that a Massachusetts resident's assets will end up with the person or persons intended. This will also make the probate process more difficult for family members, since they have no guide as to how an individual wanted his or her property distributed after death. There could also be additional time and costs expended in order to settle the estate.
Who will receive an individual's retirement account upon his or her death? One person is named in the will, and another is named on the beneficiary designation filled out by the decedent back when the account was opened. Many people in Massachusetts would make the assumption that the assets in the account would be given to the person named in the will. However, that would be an incorrect assumption.
When a Massachusetts resident dies, the estate will be distributed in accordance with his or her estate plan. Knowing a person's wishes makes estate administration easier, but without some basic basic awareness of an estate plan, things can become unnecessarily complicated. Important, but often neglected, parts of estate planning include making a list of all assets, accounts and debts. Moreover, it's vital to keep the information up to date.