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Boston Probate Attorney

Probate following husband's deathProbate is a time-consuming, costly process. Boston Probate attorney, Michael J. Hurley, can assist you in getting your probate matter underway, and help you with the complexities of settling your estate or trust.

Losing a loved one is an emotional and difficult time for family and friends. Those left behind must then figure out how to deal with the legal expectations of the State of Massachusetts, and how to legally transfer or inherit property from the loved one who has died.

If you have been named the executor or administrator of a loved one’s estate, you have a challenging task ahead. Michael J. Hurley, as your Boston Probate attorney, can help you carry out your estate duties with the goal of avoiding mishaps and upsets. We can administer the entire probate process under your direction, or we can help you only with the more difficult tasks you don’t have time for or experience to handle.

We can help you with the Probate process on an “as-needed basis.” – For example, you could have us draft and submit required documents and petitions to the Court. You could ask us to appear on your behalf for all Court hearings. We can obtain the IRS taxpayer ID and set up the new bank account required for estate management, keep accounting records, and oversee the compilation, filing, tax payments (if required) and meeting deadlines of the required State and Federal tax returns.

Michael J. Hurley, Esq. - Boston Probate AttorneyI am Michael J. Hurley, a Massachusetts native, husband, father, and seasoned Boston Probate attorney. I can personally provide you with the legal advice and assistance you will need dealing with the Massachusetts probate courts, their complex rules, specific dates and expectations. Moreover, I will personally help you complete the complex process while honoring your family member or friend’s wishes who has passed.

Fiduciary Representation — We can counsel and advise designated executors, trustees and conservators in accomplishing their fiduciary obligations in administering an estate or trust and defend them against accusations of breach of fiduciary duty.

Beneficiary Representation – If you have wrongfully been written out of a will or trust or if your rightful inheritance is in jeopardy by the wrongful acts of another, you have the right to challenge a will, trust, or ongoing probate. But you must act quickly, because there are deadlines for you to start a will or trust contest. If you are a beneficiary or creditor unhappy about the administration of a probate case, we can provide you expert legal advice and representation.

Starting the Probate Process | Settling Estates | Probate Disputes

Starting the Probate Process – Boston probate attorney, Michael J. Hurley, provides hands-on guidance for all probate and probate administration matters. Contact Michael personally for a free phone consultation at (617) 712-2000 to talk over your probate matter today.

Settling Estates – Boston probate attorney, Michael J. Hurley, can assist you with the complicated tasks of settling an estate, probate administration, disbursement or liquidation of property, or managing a trust throughout the Greater Boston area including Essex County, Middlesex County, Suffolk County, Merrimack Valley, North Shore, North Andover, Lawrence, and all of Massachusetts from offices in Boston and North Andover, or remotely by phone and email.

Image of two women arguing over inheritanceProbate Disputes – We can be retaineda to represent the estate, the beneficiaries or heirs who feel they were wrongfully excluded in will contests and trust contests. Often, will and trust contests arise when care givers, nurses, neighbors, or siblings have used ‘undue influence’ or outright fraud to enrich themselves over the rightful heirs or beneficiaries.

A word of encouragement. It is common that family conflicts occur amongst family members. Virtually every family and every estate have some sort of misunderstanding or dispute simmering. Please don’t be stressed out or hesitant to call and share what’s going on. Family dynamics are always in play and often complex. We can –and routinely do– help to resolve any disputes in a practical and confidential manner.

What is the Purpose of Probate?

The purpose of probate – is to transfer the title of assets (bank accounts, property and real property) from the estate of a deceased person to the heirs or beneficiaries. Beneficiaries are typically family members, friends and organizations the deceased wanted to disburse their asset to. If the deceased person did not leave a will (intestate), then by law, their assets will pass to their legal heirs. Anytime a person dies without a will, Massachusetts law dictates who is an heir, and how their property is transferred. The Probate court will expect the estate to seek out any family members, no matter how far removed.

What is an Executor (Personal Representative)?

For small estates (under $25,000) – Massachusetts has done away with the terms Executor and Executrix in favor of Personal Representative or Administrator. For the remainder of this conversation, consider that “Executor = Personal Representative.”

An Executor is Designated in a Will – as the person the decedent wanted to administer the decedent’s will and to ensure that their final wishes are carried out as specified in the will. If you are named as Executor, you are entitled to hire a Boston Probate attorney to help you throughout the entire process. The costs of a Probate lawyer can be paid from the assets of the Estate and are not expected to ever come out of the Executor’s pocket.

What are the Duties of Executor

Once you are appointed as Executor (Personal Representative), your fiduciary duty is to legally take charge of the estate. As executor, it is your duty to list, document and collect the decedent’s assets. Additionally, you must seek out and inventory all outstanding debts by going through the decedent’s files, bills, mail, and statements. It is the executor’s duty to keep everything current such as making mortgage payments, bill payments, and so forth – just as if you were the decedent. You are supposed to pay or settle any bills, rent, mortgage, and utilities to ensure that the decedent’s estate is protected throughout the process. Your duties as Executor could go from 9 to 18 months as the process winds through the Probate court.

Many Executors Have a Probate Lawyer Help Out

First time executors are often overwhelmed just being designated. Most of us are stressed out doing our own tax returns. Now, as executor, you are required to compile and file necessary tax returns for the decedent. Asking a Boston probate lawyer to help will remove many of these burdens from your plate. Moreover, any attorney fees can be paid from the estate, removing the financial burdens from you.

Probate Process

Probate is a court-supervised legal process. Conducting a probate in Massachusetts takes at least a year. This is because the decedent’s creditors have a year (after the death) in which to come forward with claims. The process can take much longer than a year if there is a ‘Will Contest.’ Will contests arise when there is a dispute among beneficiaries regarding distribution of assets, where potential beneficiaries contest being excluded, or creditor claims. Working through such disputes adds additional months. Sometimes it becomes necessary for a Judge to settle the dispute.

If there is a will, the person named in the will to serve as personal representative (executor) must petition the Massachusetts Probate Court to allow the will and approve the executor (be formally appointed as personal representative) of the deceased.

If there is no will, or the person named in the will to be executor cannot be located or is unwilling to serve in that capacity, the surviving spouse has first priority to be appointed as personal representative.

The Probate Court will issue a document called “Letters” to the approved executor which proves to banks, mortgage lenders, creditors, and beneficiaries the executor has legal authority to collect and manage estate assets.

The Court approved executor is then charged to take an inventory of the assets of the estate, seeks appraisals, pay creditors, and maintain the decedent’s estate as would the decedent. This is a fiduciary responsibility that eventually leads to the transfer assets to the people who are to inherit them.

The executor has authority over any assets that go through the probate process. Typical assets can include real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and personal property such as home furnishings, jewelry, tools, guns, coin collections, artwork, and anything of value.

Image of personal representative doing accounting workThe executor might be required to keep accurate accounting records. It is important to keep accurate records to protect yourself from possible disputes or challenges by other beneficiaries. Also, if you are executor of a ‘Court-supervised probate administration,’ you will likely be required to produce a “final accounting’ to the Court at the conclusion of the process.

Wrapping up a Probate requires the Executor to compile and file final Massachusetts state and federal income tax returns for the deceased person. The tax returns are typically due by April 15 of the year following the year of death. In some probate cases, tax returns must be compiled and filed for the ‘estate’ itself. For supervised cases, your must keep detailed and accurate records throughout the year or more of the process. This is because you must file a “Final Account” report to Massachusetts Court. When the Court is satisfied with the accounting and formally accepts the Final Account, the personal representative (executor) has no further responsibilities.

How Can I Avoid Probate?

Massachusetts Probate is easy to avoid. – People tasked with administering a probate for a loved-one, learn the TRUTH quickly! The truth is, Probate results in a costly, time-consuming, burdensome, and frustrating experience for the family members you leave behind. People who suddenly find themselves involved in a Probate following the death of a loved one, are the most frantically-anxious seekers of a legal way for THEIR heirs and survivors to avoid the time-consuming and expensive process.

Any person or couple can avoid saddling their heirs in a future Massachusetts Probate, by having a Boston Probate attorney draft them a proper estate plan. An estate plan is what is called a “Living Trust” in TV ads, but in legal circles is called a Revocable Trust. Revocable Trusts are NOT so expensive as to be a huge obstacle or excuse not to set one up. An estate plan package including a trust and other necessary documents often costs no more than a new big screen TV from Costco.


Seek Skilled Help with the Probate Process

You don’t have to go it alone. Call Boston Probate attorney Michael J. Hurley, a skilled probate lawyer serving clients across the Greater Boston area including Essex County, Middlesex County, Suffolk County, Merrimack Valley, North Shore, North Andover, Lawrence, and all of Massachusetts.

Following are just some of the common probate matters we can assist you with:

  • Understanding Massachusetts Probate
  • Probate Administration
  • Probate Litigation & Will Disputes
  • Can Probate Be Avoided?
  • How to Avoid Probate
  • Understanding Probate Costs
Call (617) 712-2000 today for a free phone consultation or to schedule a reduced-fee initial sit-down meeting to discuss –in depth– your Probate challenges in my Boston office located a block from TD Garden and the North Station train complex, in my North Andover office, or your home, your business, hospital room or even at your corner Starbucks.

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