Being appointed the personal representative in Massachusetts (PR, formerly executor or administrator) can be a deceptively empowering event. Because while the PR is granted with a great deal of authority, he also needs a great deal of guidance in carrying out his duties. Those planning their estates should thus carefully consider how they choose a personal representative. Below we have listed some reasons why hiring an attorney will actually save even the most carefully chosen PR both time and money in the long run.
Understanding How to Move and Transfer Various Types of Assets
One of the main reasons the Personal Representative of the will needs to hire an attorney is for expediting the transfer of assets. A person can acquire a lot of property over the period of a lifetime, and this property can take all kinds of forms. Depending on the estate, the transfer of a variety of assets may involve very unique considerations. Some common issues in the recently troubled economy, for example, include trying to sell a home under market value or continuing to operate a business that was owned by the decedent. Other frequent issues include selling a business, converting bank or retirement accounts to a named beneficiary, or passing a vehicle on to a grandchild. An experienced Massachusetts probate attorney can make these processes a lot easier for an personal representative of the will.
Understanding Financial Obligations and the Proper Payment of Liabilities
While (almost) everyone knows how to pay bills, few care to find out what happens to those financial obligations once they pass away. The personal representative of the will needs to know how and when to notify and/or pay creditors, how and when to pay expenses related to the administration of the estate, how and when to pay income and estate taxes, and how to minimize all expenses across the board. A personal representative of a will that goes into this process blind can bring disastrous consequences to all those who stand to inherit. So in order to cover all bases, hiring an attorney to counsel through this process is essential.
Navigating the Court System and Formalities of Probate
Probate can be overwhelmingly complex, because the courts can enforce certain requirements at landmark points throughout the process. A personal representative of a will must, for example, file a petition for appointment as personal representative, serve and publish legal notices for components of the estate, and pay close attention to the timing involved with filing or objecting to claims made on the estate. If these provisions are ignored or not treated with importance, the distribution of assets could be significantly delayed or be much more costly than is necessary. It is thus a wise decision to utilize the experience of an attorney throughout the probate process in Massachusetts.
Locating Documents, Keeping Accurate Records and Accounting
It can be quite a challenging task in an estate of any size to keep, obtain and organize all of the information a personal representative of the Will needs to move and distribute assets. Filing and categorizing expenses, documenting the sale and distribution of larger assets, tracking down and claiming life insurance benefits, and many similar tasks, can take hours of time. Of course, a personal representative needs to know when an accounting must be filed, to gain the assent of all beneficiaries under the will. If meticulous records are not kept, the probate process will likely become significantly burdensome, or worse, may be subject to lawsuits from beneficiaries. An experienced Massachusetts probate lawyer provides an added layer of protection, and peace of mind that the record-keeping and inventory will be correctly documented and filed with the court.
Sorting Priorities of the Estate from Emotional Issues
The passing of a family member or loved one is an emotional occurrence for those involved. It is not uncommon for these emotions to complicate the probate process, and distributing assets according to the wishes of a testator can become more difficult than usual. An experienced probate attorney can help in a number of ways. Firstly, with respect to any potential claims or contests on the will, the probate attorney can advise you how to proceed without incurring added liabilities on the estate. Secondly, having an independent attorney explain to beneficiaries why estate assets are distributed or sold in a particular manner can carry a lot more weight than instructions from the often interested personal representative.
Overview of Why a Personal Representative Needs an Attorney | Protection
The reasons for the personal representative of the will to hire an attorney are numerous, but all of these reasons can be summed up in one word: protection. Throughout the many aspects of the probate process, the personal representative wants to be sure that he is performing his duties correctly, and that the beneficiaries are receiving what they are due. We are experienced Cape Cod probate attorneys that provide peace of mind for a Personal Representative that everything will run as smoothly possible.