Probate and Trust Administration

 A Probate Attorney in Barnstable County, MA

Streamlining Probate and Trust Administration

When a person passes away, it's easy to forget about the assets he or she leaves behind. After all, family members should use this time to comfort each other and celebrate their loved one's life. However, the time will come when someone must take care of the decedent's taxes, debts, and will. If you're responsible for a deceased loved one's estate, get in touch with the Law Office of Chantal Hayes Rice, Esq. Our team is here to make the probate process and all the legal ups and downs much easier. Read up on some of the basics of probate or schedule a consultation at our Barnstable County, MA office.  

What Is Probate?

When an individual passes away, a loved one is often given the authority to manage that person’s assets. This court-supervised legal process is known as probate. The loved one, often a spouse or another family member, must pay the decedent's debts and distribute assets according to a will. The entire probate process typically takes at least six months but could take well over a year. While probate proceedings are not always necessary for all assets, it's a good idea to talk with a probate attorney about the best course of action.

Probate Administration Explained

A Formal Probate is necessary in certain situations where there are issues that are in need of the court’s oversight. In a Formal Probate, the court will oversee the administration of the estate and the PR is required to file an inventory and periodic accountings with the court.

A petition for complete settlement must be filed and allowed by the court to close the estate.

Understanding the Types of Probate

Massachusetts allows for several types of probate. Because your situation may warrant one of these options over another, it's a good idea to speak with an attorney experienced in the probate process. The team at the Law Office of Chantal Hayes Rice, Esq. will let you know which type is best suited to your circumstances. Here is a brief overview of what to expect from each type of probate:

  • Voluntary Probate: Voluntary Administration may be an option if the decedent did not own property and held less than $25,000 in assets. Voluntary probate is only permissible in a few circumstances, and the process must be agreeable to all heirs and beneficiaries.  
  • Informal Probate: Many PRs choose to file an informal probate when the decedent does not leave a will or their will is not likely to be contested. The Personal Representative can complete his or her duties informally without the need for stringent reporting requirements. This is a viable option, so long as all heirs and beneficiaries consent.  
  • Formal Probate: Formal probate takes place when court oversight is necessary to distribute the decedent's assets. A PR will still be appointed, and he or she will be required to file an inventory and accounting records for the court's review. 

Looking Deeper into Formal Probate

Formal probate is the most complex type of probate listed above. As such, let's look at this process in more detail. A PR will need to carry out all the aforementioned duties, as well as file a petition for complete settlement once it's time to close the estate. All of this documentation is subject to court review. Not every situation will require formal probate, but it's important to know when to expect court oversight. Here are some examples of when formal probate is necessary: 

  • A beneficiary contests the Last Will and Testament 
  • A beneficiary contests the appointed Personal Representative 
  • The decedent's property is registered with the land court 
  • The will contains an error 

What Is Trust Administration? 

Trust administration is another crucial concept with which to familiarize yourself. In short, trust administration involves an appointed Trustee who will manage a decedent's property on behalf of the beneficiaries. The appointed Trustee is responsible for filing tax returns, distributing assets to beneficiaries, and providing accounting reports once the trust becomes irrevocable, typically after the donor passes away. The Law Office of Chantal Hayes Rice, Esq. can provide guidance should you find yourself responsible for trust administration.  

How We Can Help

Chantal Hayes Rice, Esq. has years of experience working as a probate attorney on behalf of Barnstable County residents. Not only does she have exceptional general knowledge of family law, but she has a proven record of success with trust and probate law. We understand you may be going through a difficult time, and we strive to make the probate process as simple as possible so you can focus on what matters. Whether you need help with trust administration or plan to draft your own will, Chantal Hayes Rice, Esq. and her team are here for you. Contact our team today to schedule your consultation.