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Easing family stress during the probate process

Massachusetts residents who bite the bullet and create an estate plan take an important step to protect and provide for their loved ones after they pass away. However, it takes more than just executing a will to ease the stress family members face when wrapping up a deceased love one's estate. Making the probate process less complex, and possibly contentious, for surviving family members may help.

Many people remember to divide up monetary accounts and large assets, but it is the personal property that often presents a challenge. Family members could end up arguing about who gets a piece of jewelry or the good china while not being bothered by decisions made about the "bigger" assets. Numerous methods can be employed to divide up these and other personal items in order to avoid these types of conflicts.

Failing to periodically review beneficiary designations on assets such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts could present a problem as well. Is the intended beneficiary still alive? Is that person an ex-spouse? Beneficiary designations need to be updated when major life events occur in order to make sure the funds are appropriately distributed and not without a beneficiary due to some event such as a divorce or death.

These types of issues can complicate the probate process unnecessarily. Resolving these and other issues, and periodically reviewing and updating them when needed, eliminates at least one source of stress for family members who are already grieving the loss of a Massachusetts resident. In order to help ensure that nothing is missed and all options are explored, it may be a good idea to make use of available legal resources.

Source: kiplinger.com, "7 Signs Your Estate Plan May Be Worthless", Casey Robinson, March 15, 2018

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