Everyone wants to save money where they can. For many people, that means doing things themselves. There are many projects that Massachusetts residents can do with little to no repercussions that will not cost them as much as bringing in a professional. However, that philosophy often does not apply to legal issues such as the probate process. Attempting to go it alone could result in costly mistakes that could be even more expensive to fix.
There are three primary mistakes that people make when they go through the process alone. The first is not providing notice of the probate to every potential heir. Even if someone is specifically excluded from the will, the law still requires they be given notice.
The second mistake is not informing the decedent’s creditors of the fact that he or she passed away. Creditors have the right to request payment from the estate. If a creditor is not notified and given a chance to demand payment prior to the final distribution, the executor of the estate could be held personally liable for the decedent’s legally owed debts.
Unless a Massachusetts resident’s will waives the necessity for a bond, the personal representative or executor is required to be bonded. A bond functions as an insurance policy if this person makes a mistake such as those listed above. Bonds can be expensive, but not having one could be even more costly. If an individual is unable to obtain a bond that is required, he or she will not be able to serve.
These are just three of the errors that can be made during the probate process. Many would argue, however, that the number one mistake an individual can make is to not hire a attorney to provide assistance and guidance throughout the proceedings. The ramifications to surviving family members and the executor/personal representative could be end up costing more in the end.
Source: yumasun.com, “Estate Planning: Probate is not a do-it-yourself project“, Adam Hansen, Sept. 12, 2016