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How To Avoid Probate Court In Massachusetts

Dealing with probate can be a long and frustrating process. In our latest post, learn how to avoid probate court in Massachusetts!

Nobody wants to have to go through the probate process, especially if they plan to sell the inherited property once their loved ones have passed. By planning ahead and employing an attorney, mediator, or reaching out to a local homebuyer/broker like Gaeta Properties, people are able to avoid probate, giving their families the peace of mind they need when dealing with a sad and difficult situation.

Why Avoid Probate?

There are a number of reasons why people would want to avoid probate in Massachusetts. First of all, there are a massive amount of fees associated with the process. Attorney fees, appraisal fees, court costs, and executor fees can all add up fast and in a very short period of time. Often times, the executor will waive their fee in an effort to maintain fairness amongst the family, likely because they will also be employed as the probate attorney. In addition, the probate process can often be very time-consuming, especially if members of the family don’t agree on certain things. All of the assets and heirs will need to be accounted for, with proper notice being provided to all individuals involved. Debts and liabilities will need to be paid and settled before any inheritances are passed on to the beneficiaries. All in all, going through the probate process isn’t something anyone wants to deal with if they don’t have to.

Using A Trust

A person, or family, can set up a trust to ensure their assets will not be subject to the probate process. By setting up a revocable living trust a person can ensure items contained therein will not be subject to the probate process because every asset at that time will be accounted for and decided on. The trust will need to be set up while the person is of sound mind and able to decide for themselves what will go into the trust. The trust can be thought of like a bucket, all assets the individual wants to place in the trust will then be set aside and managed accordingly.

Joint Ownership

When a person buys a home with someone else, they can enter into a joint ownership agreement, likely at the time of purchase but can be done after the fact. With the right of survivorship the property is passed to the surviving owner, without having to go through the probate process such as with married couples etc. It’s important to set this up when purchasing a property as adding someone to the deed after the fact may cost money but far less than if it had to go through the probate process.

Beneficiary Designations

When it comes to estate planning, designating beneficiaries for your bank accounts, life insurance policies, and even real estate can help bypass the probate process. Some states permit the creation of transfer-on-death certificates for real estate, ensuring a smooth transfer of property after your passing. It is crucial to review and update your beneficiary designations regularly to avoid unintended consequences. Failing to make changes, especially after major life events like divorce or the death of a loved one, can result in undesired outcomes such as an ex-spouse inheriting assets or assets being tied up in probate.

Giving Inheritance Away

Thinking ahead to estate planning, it’s possible to proactively transfer the majority of your assets to beneficiaries before your passing. By transferring ownership of assets before you pass away, you can potentially avoid the lengthy probate process which can in turn offer tax advantages to the recipient(s). Certain assets valued at $18k or less can be gifted without incurring federal tax consequences though that may change on a year to year basis, mostly by raising the ceiling on the gift amount. By making annual “gifts” of up to this amount per person you can effectively minimize the assets subject to a potential probate.

Avoiding Probate for Smaller Estates

In certain states, it can be easier to avoid probate if the person passing away has only a small estate. To be considered small, the amount of the estate will vary based on where you live.

It can be very beneficial for heirs to avoid the probate process in Massachusetts. Between the fees, costs, and stress, the process can be daunting and overwhelming. If you want to learn more about how to avoid probate in Massachusetts, reach out to us today!

Looking to learn more? Contact us to see how to avoid probate court in Massachusetts!

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