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Probate Litigation

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When a loved one dies those left behind expect the will of the deceased to express his or her final wishes regarding the distribution of assets. Unfortunately sometimes the will is unclear or those wishes are contested by family members or others such as creditors, beneficiaries, the IRS, or people who expected an inheritance or gift. This is when you need an attorney to help you with the litigation process in probate court. Probate litigation involves wills, trusts, guardianships and conservatorships. The probate court may determine the assets of the deceased and specify how taxes and debts will be paid and provide for the distribution of assets among the heirs. If you have reason to contest a will or need representation when someone challenges the will of your loved one, I can help you in the probate litigation process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Probate is a process supervised by the probate court where the property, called the estate, of a deceased person is passed on to his or her heirs and devisees (the people or organizations named in the will). The entire process usually takes about one year. However, distributions from the estate can be made while the will is in probate.

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Please Note: The information provided here is a summary only and does not take into account your individual situation.

The probate estate includes all property held in the deceased person’s name. Certain kinds of property, such as property owned jointly by the deceased and another person, life insurance, and property held in trust, are not part of the probate estate and are not subject to the probate process. For example, jointly owned bank accounts pass automatically to the surviving joint owner(s) upon the death of one of the owners without going through probate. The non-probate property, however, is part of the deceased person’s taxable estate.

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Please Note: The information provided here is a summary only and does not take into account your individual situation.

The first step is to file a petition for probate of the will with the probate court along with the original will and a certified copy of the death certificate. Notice must be mailed to all of the deceased person’s heirs at law (usually the surviving spouse, children and children of any deceased children), to those named as beneficiaries in the will, and, if a charity is involved or there are no heirs at law, to the Attorney General. Notice must be also published in a local newspaper. If no one objects by a deadline set by the court, the personal representative named in the will is appointed by the court.

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Please Note: The information provided here is a summary only and does not take into account your individual situation.

The personal representative is responsible for collecting the probate property and for paying any debts of the estate. The personal representative must file with the probate court an itemized list, known as an inventory, of the probate property, including the value of each item. The personal representative must file an estate tax return within nine months of the date of death. This is true even if no estate tax is owed, if the deceased person owned real estate or the executor wants his or her final accounting allowed by the probate court. Creditors of the estate have one year to bring claims against the estate. Personal representatives generally wait until this claim period has expired to complete distribution of the estate according to the terms of the will. As his or her final responsibility, the personal representative must file an accounting with the probate court showing the income and expenditures of the estate administration.

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Please Note: The information provided here is a summary only and does not take into account your individual situation.

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Mike is clearly devoted to his clients and the practice of elder law. During a difficult time, while attempting to make decision in order to best advocate for an elderly loved one, he provided me with necessary legal information and I am extremely grateful for his expertise and kindness. Heather Porter, Brookline, MA

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