When is it necessary to probate an estate?
In Massachusetts, the probate of a last will and testament falls under the jurisdiction of the Probate and Family Court, but it is not always necessary to involve the court when a person dies. If a deceased person’s assets pass to others outside the probate process court intervention may be unnecessary or minimized. This may happen in a number of ways, such as when a decedent’s property is held jointly with another who has a right of survivorship, or the decedent has made beneficiary designations with their financial providers, such as naming beneficiaries on life insurance, retirement, and bank accounts. Probate may also be avoided or minimized through the use of trust planning. Assets placed into a trust before death usually bypass the need for court administration.
A court administered probate proceeding is frequently needed when real estate and other assets must be transferred to a legal heir, when it is necessary for the decedent’s estate to file and pay taxes, or the demands of creditors must be satisfied.