How to Probate a Family Member's Estate?
Massachusetts has two options for administration of an estate: informal and formal administration. Informal administration is generally available if you have the original will available and intact (i.e., no handwritten notations or additions) and if the location of all heirs is known. If there is no will at all, you may still be able to use the information proceedings to appoint a personal representative, if you follow the required notice procedures and there is no objection by other heirs.
The first step is to determine which kind of proceeding applies in your situation. This will include identifying all of the heirs either named in the will or who will inherit under Massachusetts intestacy laws, and making sure you know where they are located. Notice to these individuals will be required as part of the filing process. You will also need an original of the will (if there is one) and an original death certificate.
For most families, the informal proceedings are available. This can be done with or without an attorney, and the state has provided online instructions for probating an estate. However, missing a step in the process will only lengthen the amount of time that it takes to settle the estate and release assets to the heirs.
Learn more here about what to do when a loved one dies.
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