Experienced Guidance For Probate Or Trust Administration
When someone asks you to act as the trustee of their trust or names you in their will as their personal representative, you will likely feel honored. You should understand, however, the responsibilities of the role before accepting. Much of the work is detailed and complex, which is why most personal representatives and trustees hire an experienced attorney to guide them through it.
I am John M. Discenza, and I represent clients throughout Boston and the metro west area from my law office in Holyoke. I have spent decades helping people plan their estates and manage estate administrations in both trusts and probates. You do not have to take on an estate administration alone. I am happy to explain the process, answer your questions and assist you with all document preparation and filing.
The Probate Process In Massachusetts
You may find yourself as the personal representative of someone’s estate because the decedent nominated you in their will, you held priority for appointment or because the other interested parties nominated you. Managing a probate involves many more steps than most people realize and often takes a full year or more. A brief summary of your tasks include:
- Filing the appropriate probate application with the court
- Receiving your letters of appointment as the personal representative
- Notifying interested parties, such as heirs, creditors and devisees
- Managing the probate assets and creating an inventory
- Paying any legitimate creditor claims and administration costs, including filing necessary estate tax returns
- Distribution of the remaining assets to the heirs or devisees
- Closing the estate
Not every estate has to go through probate, even when the decedent has a will. I can review the estate with you to determine whether you must open a probate with the court or you can use a simplified process.
Understanding Your Role As A Trustee
Acting as a trustee requires you to be diligent and organized. For the most part, the trust document will tell you all you will need to know about how to administer the trust, but you also must:
- Routinely communicate with the beneficiaries
- Care for all of the trust assets
- Distribute the assets in accordance with the trust
- Manage any required court filings and tax returns
Both personal representatives and trustees are fiduciaries. This means they have a special duty of care toward the estate they represent. If you take care of the property as you would your own and seek legal advice whenever you have questions, you will likely do just fine. An estate attorney can assist you with your duties and make sure you are meeting your legal responsibilities. If you have serious reservations regarding your ability to serve in your role, you can always decline.
I Am Here To Help
You do not need to fulfill these duties alone. I am here to provide trusted legal advice along the way. To schedule an appointment, please reach out to J.M. Discenza Law, LLC, online or by calling 413-567-8411.