Probate and Estate Administration

The loss of a loved one is difficult enough, without having to deal with the often complicated process of transferring the assets of the deceased.  Attorney Lipton works with the family during the difficult time of administering the estate of the deceased and transferring assets to heirs.

When a person dies with a Will, the legal term is they die "testate" and the terms of the Will govern the disposition of assets.  When a person dies without a Will, the legal term is they die "intestate" and state law will determine who gets what assets and in what amounts.

With or without a Will, if there are assets owned individually in the name of the deceased, then the estate of the deceased is subject to the jurisdiction of the Probate Court system.  In Massachusetts, each County has a Probate Court and the person’s residence at death will determine where the estate will be probated.

For assets with a named beneficiary, such as life insurance, retirement benefits, or for jointly owned assets, these assets will pass directly to the named beneficiary or co-owner and are not subject to Probate.

Even if there are no probate assets, it is important to review the estate of the deceased including the type of assets held at death, the value of the assets and the form of ownership of these assets as estate taxes may be owed on the estate.  If real estate is part of the estate of the deceased, it is important to address the automatic estate tax lien that attaches to Massachusetts real estate.  Real estate owned by the deceased at death cannot be sold without release of the lien.  If a Massachusetts estate tax will be owed, the lien will be released by filing the Massachusetts estate tax return, paying the estate tax, obtaining a Release of Lien from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and recording the Release at the Registry of Deeds where the real estate is located.  If a federal estate tax will be owed, in order to give good title to real estate, the same process must be undertaken, including filing the federal estate tax return, paying the federal estate tax, obtaining the release of the federal estate tax lien from the Internal Revenue Service and then recording the release at the appropriate Registry of Deeds.  If no estate tax is owed, the lien will be released when the executor or person in possession of the real estate executes an affidavit indicating that no federal or Massachusetts estate tax return filing is required and then records the affidavit at the Registry of Deeds in the county where the property is located.

Probate and estate administration services include:

  • Initial estate evaluation.
  • Preparation and filing of probate documents for the appointment of executors, administrators and trustees.
  • Assistance with transfer of probate and non-probate assets.
  • Preparation and filing of estate inventories and accounts.
  • Preparation and filing of Massachusetts and Federal Estate Tax Returns.
  • Assistance with disposition of estate assets during the probate and estate administration process, including preparation and filing of License to Sell Real Estate with Probate Court, when necessary.