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.
In 2007, a man and his wife died when their private plane went down near the runway at a Massachusetts airport. Since that time, the administration of their estates has been fraught with controversy, including a claim that their wills were forgeries. Now, the couple's heirs are contesting the costs of estate administration, which reach into the millions of dollars.
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.
Many Massachusetts residents are aware that losing a loved one is difficult. Not only is it necessary to handle the funeral and burial, but any real and personal property owned by the deceased family member will need to be distributed -- hopefully in accordance with a will and/or trust. This distribution and/or transfer of property is the purpose of the probate process, as well as wrapping up any other financial issues of the decedent, including his or her debts.
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.
When gathering information on assets for an estate plan, some Massachusetts residents may forget about their online accounts. These digital assets also need to be included in the estate planning process. It is not always easy for heirs to locate assets in cyberspace -- especially if they do not know what to look for.
Many Massachusetts music fans know that Eric Carr was the second drummer for the iconic band KISS. During his time with the band, he wrote four songs for which he received royalties. When he died in 1991, the estate believed it continued to receive royalties for those songs from all relevant sources. Recently, the estate discovered that was not the case, and as part of an ongoing estate administration, it filed suit against KISS and others.
Massachusetts executors and trustees have the sometimes unenviable task of ensuring that all of the beneficiaries and heirs are satisfied. This can be a difficult task when emotions are running high. Avoiding conflict in estate administration may not always be easy, but there are ways to diffuse confrontations that could jeopardize the process and, ultimately, the inheritances of the heirs and beneficiaries.
After a death in the family, the surviving members typically have much to deal with. If the deceased took the proper steps to establishing a will before their demise, it may be easier for the estate to handle the concerns left behind after a death. Typically, one of the most common issues dealt with is the division of certain property. However, before assets are divided, it is important to ensure that any remaining debts have been taken care of.