WHAT IS INFORMAL PROBATE?
The new MUPC laws enacted in March, 2012 in Massachusetts allow for a less intrusive way of probating an estate in Massachusetts. It is so simple that upon filing, you would think there is something wrong. The Court requires a specific set of forms to be filed along with a fee of $390.00. After that, the Personal Representative can act as he or she chooses, without any future Court involvement after publication has been made in a Court-approved newspaper. Although the Personal Representative (a combination of the title “Administrator” and “Executor”) may not have to report to the Court again, they must uphold the standards set out in state law. There are a handful of obligations that a Personal Representative must deal with, including but not limited to: settling debts, maintaining proper accounting records, and the duties of carrying out specific instructions in a Will.
WHAT DOES THE PROBATE COURT REQUIRE FOR INFORMAL PROBATE?
1. Petition for Informal Probate
2. Notice of Informal Probate and Return of Service
3. Order of Informal Probate
4. Military Affidavit
6. Certified Copy of the Death Certificate
7. Filing fee of $390.00.
WHEN SHOULD I NOT FILE AN INFORMAL PROBATE?
• When you know a Will exists, but it is currently missing.
• When there are several family members attempting to be the Personal Representative.
• There is no death certificate available.
• The location or identity of any heir or devisee is unknown.
• The person to be appointed personal representative does not have priority for appointment.
• There is a spouse, heir or devisee that is incapacitated or a minor and not represented by a conservator, or a guardian who is not the petitioner.
• Supervised administration is necessary.
• A judge must sign an order or final decree for any reason.
WHY DO I NEED A LAWYER IF IT’S SO EASY?
It is important to seek counsel from a lawyer prior to filing. Oftentimes, people overlook requirements for filing that can cause unnecessary delays and rejections by court clerks. There are requirements such as sending a letter to the Massachusetts Division of Medical Insurance, sending notices to all proper heirs and devisees, and coordinating publication.
During this difficult time, you want your estate to be safely settled and deserve effective, efficient and fairly priced legal representation. Do not settle on a firm that charges upwards of $3000.00 for this work. Our firm offers competitive flat-fee rates for simple estates/informal filings.