When someone passes away, ownership of their property is transferred to either their heirs or beneficiaries. If the deceased has written a will, then their assets and property will be passed down according to the stipulations of the will to the named beneficiaries. If the deceased did not leave a will, however, then the state will decide how their estate is divided. It is divided among your heirs; even those you do not know or like. The process by which your estate is divided, either by your will or by the state is known as probate. Attorney Thomas R. Mullen is available for those who wish to know more about probate, life estates, Special Needs Trusts (SNT) Wills, and more.

How Does the Probate Process Work?

Anytime a will is probated, it must be verified as the last statement of the deceased which correctly expressed his or her wishes concerning their property and its distribution. The will names the person or persons the deceased wishes to receive their assets. You can choose who will administer your estate if you have a will. This person will take over the affairs of the deceased. The heirs of the deceased are notified, and the assets of the deceased are marshaled and distributed according to the will. Anyone to whom the deceased owed money will also be paid from the estate. This includes debts, creditors, taxes, etc. The remaining property will then be divided among the heirs if you have no will; and among the named beneficiaries if you have a will.

How Long Does the Probate Process Take?

The entire process of probate from the appointment of an executor to the distribution of assets among the heirs or beneficiaries can take anywhere from about a year and a half to four years. The amount of time will depend on the laws of the state concerning how creditors are paid, how and when any property is sold, whether or not the deceased owed any taxes, whether the will is disputed, etc.

How Can I Avoid Probate?

If you wish to avoid probate, a Living Trust should be established. This will help to make sure your assets are passed down to your loved ones in the manner that you wish. A living trust does not go to probate court, and can provide many tax benefits. Instead of taking years for your will to go through probate, a living trust can make sure your assets are distributed quickly, efficiently, and completely according to your wishes. Unlike a will which is public, a trust is private. If you need help setting up a living trust, or wish to known more about the probate process, give Attorney Thomas R. Mullen of Quincy, Massachusetts a call today at 617-770-1050.

Thomas R. Mullen
Thomas R. Mullen has been an attorney since 1977 and has devoted his practice exclusively to elderlaw since 1988. He is nationally recognized as one of the foremost experts on Medicaid planning. His additional Practice areas include estate planning and trusts for disabled people, as well as assisting attorneys with Medicaid lien allocations and the Medicare Secondary Payer Act. In the Spring 2013 issue of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) Journal, Attorney Thomas R. Mullen of Quincy, Mass. was described by the Academy’s Massachusetts past president and law professor William J.Brisk as being “a prominent and innovative elderlaw attorney.”