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Understanding the types of probate can simplify the process

After someone dies, there are many issues survivors must manage. Many are emotional and they can be stressful. The probate process is often one of the most challenging issues.

Probate is a court-supervised settlement of an estate. Not all assets or estates go through probate. Yet when they do, it can be an expensive, time consuming and tedious process.

The first step is the appointment of an executor. Then it is necessary to choose either informal or formal probate. Knowing which is best for you can simplify the process.

Informal probate

This is the most common type of probate in Massachusetts. It is best when there are no disagreements and you expect it to go smoothly. It is a relatively straightforward process. The executor files the will with the court. Beneficiaries and creditors are notified and the estate closes with the distribution of assets and with bill payments.

Informal probate can be cheaper and faster. If there are challenges to the process, you must use the formal probate process.

Formal probate

This process is can be used to determine a will’s validity and settle disputes. It can be either supervised or unsupervised. Both require court involvement. It will be more expensive than informal probate.

The forms of formal probate are:

  • Supervised formal probate. Court approval is required to distribute assets. It requires an appearance before a judge.
  • Unsupervised formal probate. There is less court oversight. Approval by beneficiaries is needed, but everything is handled outside of court.

Probate and estate planning can be difficult to manage

Disputes will make the process more expensive and time-consuming. Understanding these issues can ease the process. It can help you decide if informal or formal probate is the best method to resolve your case.

 

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