In the immediate aftermath of a loved one’s loss, families gather to mourn. After the funeral or memorial is over, however, grief remains, along with the work of administering the deceased person’s estate. If probate is required, Guanci Law will compassionately guide clients through the requirements of the Massachusetts probate process.
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Probate (Estate) Administration
Probate is intended to protect the rights of beneficiaries and creditors of the estate, so Personal Representatives may have many duties and obligations to fulfill. Guanci Law is experienced in handling probate and trust administration.
We are mindful that we are dealing with legal and financial matters in the context of a family’s loss. We recognize that we cannot dispel our clients’ grief. Our goal is to support them through it and provide peace of mind that their loved one’s wishes are followed in a correct and efficient manner.
Probate administration involves identifying and inventorying a deceased individual’s assets, determining the value of those assets, and distributing them appropriately to the beneficiaries under the supervision of the Probate Court. We represent and assist Personal Representatives (formerly known as Executors) of a deceased’s estate in carrying out their so-called “fiduciary duties,” some of which are:
- Gathering estate information for probate administration
- Completing and timely filing Probate Court petitions and reports
- Accounting for the transactions of the estate
- Providing creditors of the estate (if any) with proper notice of administration
- Preparing an inventory of the estate if necessary
- Approving or objecting to creditors’ claims if any
- Preparing and timely filing state and federal estate tax returns
- Advising on the income tax returns for the estate and trust (if any)
- Facilitating distributions to beneficiaries
Guanci Law can advise and counsel trustees in fulfilling their fiduciary duties to ensure the proper and efficient administration of trusts or determining which trust would meet your objectives as part of the estate planning process.
Living trusts (those created during your lifetime, rather than those created at death under a Last Will) are a popular vehicle for managing assets during one’s lifetime and distributing those assets to beneficiaries and avoiding probate upon one’s death. Living trusts are a popular vehicle for a variety of reasons.
All trusts contain provisions for the investment, management, and distribution of trust assets. For revocable trusts, the client (and sometimes the client’s spouse) typically serves as trustee, but upon the client’s death a successor trustee must take over those responsibilities. For irrevocable trusts, clients typically appoint a trusted family member, friend, or advisor to serve as trustee.
Whether it’s a successor trustee of a revocable trust or it’s a third-party trustee of an irrevocable trust, that individual assumes certain “fiduciary duties,” and can be personally liable to beneficiaries, creditors, and taxing authorities for failure to follow these duties appropriately.
We recommend that trustees obtain experienced legal counsel to assist them in discharging their trust-related duties, which may include:
- Providing notice to beneficiaries
- Establishing and funding sub-trusts
- Following rules of the Massachusetts Prudent Investor Rule
- Arranging trust accountings
- Making trust distributions
- Preparing income tax filings
- Resolving creditor issues