The probate process in Massachusetts is designed to assist with matters involving the estate once someone passes. Whether currently writing your last will and testament or named as the executor of an estate, it is critical that you understand how the probate process works. 

According to Mass.gov, there are certain instances where estates must go through the probate process, and other situations where probate is unnecessary. Knowing when and how to apply this information can help simplify the process of finalizing the estate. 

When is probate required?

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the matter, probate is mandated by the state. Probate is often required if you must complete any of the following in order to settle the estate: 

  • Finalize any debt or expenses owed by the estate 
  • File tax returns and pay any owed taxes to the state and/or federal government 
  • Ensure the will is valid 
  • Obtain documents pertaining to the deceased  
  • Locate property and/or assets left by the deceased 

Probate is also required if you must change ownership of personal property and/or assets that had only the decedent’s name on the title. Property owners can avoid this by adding another name on the title of the property. 

When is probate unnecessary?

Probate is not required if the deceased placed money and/or property in an irrevocable trust. If there is a joint-owner of the title of the property and/or assets, that property will transfer directly to that owner without having to enter probate. Furthermore, estates that do not have real estate and have a net worth of less than $25,000 may avoid the process as well.