Probate administration is the process by which an individual’s assets are distributed according to the individual’s will, or if there was no will, then according to state law.  When a person becomes involved in a probate matter it is usually because he or she has been named as a Personal Representative in an individual’s will or by the Court, or he or she is a beneficiary under the decedents will and/or an “heir at law” of the decedent (i.e. a family member of the decedent).

          Prior to March 13, 2012 an individual would be named as the Executor of a decedent’s estate in the decedent’s will, or a person could be appointed by the Court as an Administrator of the estate of a decedent when a person died without having created a will.  In both cases it was the responsibility of the Executor or Administrator to oversee the probate process and distribute the decedent’s assets according to his or her will or according to state law if there is no will.  Under the new Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code (MUPC), enacted on March 13, 2012, anyone who is appointed to administer an estate is now referred to as a Personal Representative.  There is no longer a distinction between an Executor and Administrator.

          The probate process can often be difficult and time consuming due to complex wills, various types of trusts, different forms of property holdings, and the many obstacles that may arise along the way.  To begin the process the Personal Representative must determine if the decedent died while owning any “probate assets.”  Probate assets are assets that the decedent owned individually, without a co-owner or a beneficiary designation.  If there are probate assets, then the Personal representative must file a petition to admit the will with the Probate and Family Court.

          Once the will is allowed the Personal Representative may be called upon to collect the decedent’s probate assets, create an inventory of the assets, deal with any debts or expenses of the decedent, handle any legal disputes the decedent may have been involved in and thereafter distribute the decedent’s assets according to the will or state law, and finally, close the estate. 

          If you would like to discuss your legal matter with one of our attorneys please contact this office and arrange for a free initial consultation. Our experienced attorneys can assist you with your legal needs.