Planning for Life

Beware the Use of Preprinted Probate Forms

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 27, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis


The Massachusetts Probate Courts have created useful forms for use in its proceedings, but sometimes the forms don't fit the exactly the facts or situation petitioners want to present to the court. In the case of Leighton v. Hallstrom (Mass. App. Ct. No. 17-P-1335, Nov. 7, 2018), Robert H. Olson of Bridgewater died in 2015 without a will. His first cousin, Dorothy A. Leighton, filed a petition for probate listing herself and two other cousins as next of kin.

Bengt Hallstrom, of Uddevalla Sweden, filed a notice of appearance on which he checked the box saying that he was not objecting to the proceeding. His counsel also sent a letter to Leighton's counsel containing a genealogical chart showing that he was a cousin of Olson on his mother's side. The letter stated "I have not listed it as an objection since it is my understanding by doing so will cause a contest in this matter." In other words, Hallstrom was not objecting to the proceeding, just to the listing of next of kin. A guardian ad litem who was appointed by the court issued a report stating, "The issue of determining heirs can be addressed during the course of the handling of the estate."

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Topics: probate, Probate Estate Administration

What is Probate and Should You Avoid It?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on March 15, 2016

By Harry S. Margolis

Probate is the process through which after death your possessions are passed on to whichever individuals and charities you name in your will. If you don't have a will, your property passes under what are called the rules of "intestacy" which means that state law determines who gets what -- essentially your closest relatives.

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Topics: Estate Planning, will in massachusetts, probate, Probate Estate Administration

How to Fleece an Estate . . . or Giving Lawyers a Bad Name

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 6, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

A Boston estate planning attorney recently received a public reprimand from the Board of Bar Overseers (BBO) for overcharging an estate and stretching out its administration for more than seven years. In 2003, Kenneth L. Harvey, an attorney with Holland & Knight in Boston, met with an elderly client and two of her sons. The client executed a will and a trust naming Attorney Harvey as trustee and executor. She passed away later that year.

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Topics: Legal profession, Estate Planning, probate

Is a Probate Proceeding Always Required After Someone Dies?

Posted by Jeffrey A. Bloom on February 18, 2015

By Jeffrey A. Bloom

Probate is a legal process by which an appointed individual -- usually a spouse or family member -- is given the power to identify and gather a deceased person's ("decedent's") assets, pay any debts or taxes the decedent owes, and eventually transfer any remaining assets to the people who will inherit them, either according to the terms of the decedent's will (if one exists) or according to Massachusetts law (if one does not).  In 2012, Massachusetts adopted the Uniform Probate Code ("MUPC") in an effort to simplify the state's probate and estate administration process.  Below are some key points to keep in mind regarding the probate process:

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Topics: probate

Will an iPhone be Admitted to Probate?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 1, 2014

As you no doubt know, your will governs who will receive your probate property when you pass away. Probate property essentially means property in your name alone as opposed to property you own with someone in joint names, property in trust, or property with a named beneficiary, such as a retirement plan.

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Topics: Estate Planning, probate

Wisconsin Court Permits Challenge to Marriage Based on Incapacity

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 8, 2013

By Harry S. Margolis

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Topics: incapacity, Estate Planning, second marriage, probate

Beware Engaging Banks as Executors - Massachusetts

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 9, 2013

By Harry S. Margolis

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Topics: probate

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