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.
It might be difficult for Massachusetts fans of Robin Williams to believe that it has been nearly six months since he passed away. He attempted to set up a conflict free estate plan that provided for the people he loved, but that has not stopped his heirs from finding their way into court. The contentious probate process is not over the big assets that he owned -- instead, it is about his personal items.
For 2015, the federal estate tax exemption has been raised to $5.43 million per person. This means that a dwindling number of estates will actually exceed the exemption. Here in Massachusetts, however, the exemption is only $1 million. Therefore, asset protection can be refocused toward reducing other types of taxes, including the Massachusetts estate tax.
A large number of families in Massachusetts are comprised of children from a previous marriage and couples who are getting married for the first or second time later in life. This often means that both parties are coming into the marriage with their own wealth and assets. Asset protection takes on a new meaning for these families when it comes to estate planning.
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.
Many Massachusetts residents have estate plans providing a certain percentage of their estates to their heirs. This may be helpful when it comes to the individual's money, but it may not work when it comes to personal possessions. Without some additional consideration in people's wills as to what will happen to possessions such as artwork, furniture and even the china, families can end up in court fighting over an object never considered by the maker of the will.
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.
Massachusetts residents frequently hear that they should have an estate plan. However, some may not be aware of why it is important. Wills, trusts and other estate planning documents provide an individual and his or her family with numerous benefits.
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.