Estate & Trust

Boston Probate Lawyer

Probate of Estates

We guide families through the process of administering estates and trusts. We represent personal representatives, trustees, and trust beneficiaries. Guidance from an experienced attorney can make the estate and trust administration process a lot easier and efficient.

The term Probate refers to the legal process a Personal Representative (also known as Executor) goes through to administer a deceased person’s estate. Specifically, the Personal Representative must inventory and identify all of the decedent’s property, have it appraised, pay debts and taxes, and distribute the property in accordance with the decedent’s will.  If there is no will, the assets would pass according to the rules of intestacy in the state where the decedent was domiciled at the time of his or her death.

Is a probate proceeding even necessary?

Probate assets are those assets that were owned individually by the decedent; such as bank and investment accounts, homes, and other personal property.  Any assets that have beneficiary designations are not probate assets and would pass to the named beneficiary.

Non-probate assets include:

  • Assets owned in a trust
  • Jointly owned checking, savings, and brokerage accounts
  • Jointly owned real estate
  • Bank accounts with a named beneficiary-including transfer on death accounts (TOD) or payable upon death accounts (POD)

Retirement accounts (401k and IRA) that have beneficiary designations.

Life insurance policies with a named beneficiary.

We represent both trustees and beneficiaries regarding the administration of trust assets according to the terms and provisions of the trust.   We review trust documents and advise trustees of their duties throughout the process.

Massachusetts has a $1,000,000 estate tax exemption.  An estate tax return is required to be filed for estates that are greater than $1,000,000.  We advise clients about current tax laws and tax practice, including gifting, valuation discounts, beneficial tax elections, and other tax return preparation strategies.