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Could a Massachusetts estate need more than one probate process?

Taking advantage of estate planning can help many individuals get their affairs in order. By having certain documents and information organized, Massachusetts residents can better prepare their estates for the probate process or to avoid the process altogether. Of course, in order to fully make the necessary preparations, individuals likely need to understand what probate is. 

The probate proceedings that most individuals have a slight familiarity with is a legal process that takes place in the area where the deceased person lived or held assets. During the proceedings, the court typically validates the decedent’s will and presides over the distribution of property designated in the will. However, probate could potentially be avoided if individuals utilize trusts, or accounts that hold property apart from the estate. 

Another type of probate that parties may be less familiar with is ancillary probate. This type of probate involves additional proceedings in order to address tangible property located in another state. This second set of court proceedings takes place in the state in which the property is located. As a result, family members may have to travel to the other state in order to ensure that distribution of the property is addressed properly. 

Some individuals may not be aware that more than one probate process could be necessary. Therefore, interested Massachusetts residents may wish to find out more information on these proceedings and how their estate may need to be handled after their deaths. By understanding the various proceedings, individuals may be better able to determine whether they would like to avoid probate or otherwise make preparations for the process.

Source:, “Bonnie Kraham: Commonly used terms for elder law estate planning“, Bonnie Kraham, Feb. 23, 2017


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