Planning for Life

Who Gets Cash Found in House?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on April 7, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis

tangible-and-intangible-property-will-estate-planning-attorney-Wellesley-MA

We recently had an inquiry about the following situation. The decedent's will said:

"Herman shall receive all contents of the house."

It also said the rest of the property would go to beneficiaries other than Herman. The house contained $4,700 in cash, a bank check of $3,000, and an uncashed personal check made out to the decedent.

So, who gets these items, Herman or the people who are entitled to the rest of the estate?

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Topics: probate, Probate Estate Administration, tangible personal property

Beware the Use of Preprinted Probate Forms

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 27, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

court-case-heirs-intestate-estate-Wellesley-MA

The Massachusetts Probate Courts have created useful forms for use in its proceedings, but sometimes the forms don't fit 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

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

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 6, 2015

By Harry S. Margolis

In 2015, Boston estate planning attorney 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-court-estate-planning-Wellesley-MA

Probate is a legal process by which an appointed individual—usually a spouse or other kind of 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

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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