How Long Do Probate Wills Take in Massachusetts?

By Beverly Bird

The time required to probate a will depends on more than the executor’s diligence in getting the job done. The court and the IRS are often involved and their participation might affect the amount of time it takes to settle an estate. In Massachusetts, much of the work in probating a will is completed within approximately nine months, but the entire process usually takes 1 to 2 years.

The time required to probate a will depends on more than the executor’s diligence in getting the job done. The court and the IRS are often involved and their participation might affect the amount of time it takes to settle an estate. In Massachusetts, much of the work in probating a will is completed within approximately nine months, but the entire process usually takes 1 to 2 years.

Opening Probate

Probate is opened in Massachusetts with the filing of the will and a petition requesting that the will be accepted as authentic. It can take a few weeks for the court to make this decision. Notices must be sent to all the beneficiaries in the will, as well as any heirs who may have inherited if the deceased hadn’t left a will, letting them know that the will has been presented for probate. If the court approves the will, it will give Letters Testamentary to the person named in it as executor, legally authorizing him to probate the estate. This entire process can take up to two months.

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Payment of Creditors

The next time-consuming hurdle involved in probating a will involves notifying the deceased’s creditors that she has passed away and that her estate is being resolved. They have up to a year to make claims against the estate for payment of whatever the deceased owed them. The executor then decides if the claims are legitimate and either pays them or rejects them. Massachusetts also allows creditors a period of one year to sue the estate to recover debts if the executor denies them payment. If a creditor files such a lawsuit, the matter must be resolved before the estate’s assets are distributed to the beneficiaries in the will.

Tax Returns

Federal and state income tax returns must be filed for any income earned by the estate during probate and individually for any income earned by the deceased during his last year of life. However, this is not as time-consuming as federal estate taxes, which must also be paid on the value of the estate if it exceeds certain federal limits. An estate tax return must be filed within nine months of the date of death. After receipt of the return, the IRS will issue a closing letter, allowing the executor to finalize probate. This can take an additional four months to a year, depending on whether or not the IRS decides to audit the return.

Shortcuts

Massachusetts statutes allow very small estates to be probated in a simplified process that takes much less time. If the total value of the deceased’s probate assets, or those that do not pass directly to a beneficiary, such as life insurance proceeds and some real estate held jointly with a spouse or other person, does not exceed $15,000 plus one automobile, simplified probate can be completed within two months.

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How Long Does an Executor Have to Probate a Will in New York State?

References

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How to Probate a Will in Pennsylvania

The probate process in Pennsylvania is relatively simple, and some of its steps can be avoided by consent of the beneficiaries and the executor, the person responsible for settling the deceased’s estate and making sure the terms of her will are carried out. The Register of Wills in each Pennsylvania county determines if a will is valid and hears any disputes from persons who might want to contest it. Probate is then handed over to the Orphan’s Court that will eventually close the estate when probate is completed.

California Executor Checklist

The executor is the person who manages the estate of the deceased, also known as the decedent, during the probate process. The executor is responsible for paying debts of the estate and distributing assets to the heirs. California law allows for the compensation of executors from the estate assets.

The Average Probate Processing Times for Wills in Massachusetts

The average time required for the probate process depends on everything going smoothly -- if there are any complications, the time frame can increase significantly. In Massachusetts, probate is usually completed within a year of the date of the testator’s death, though most of the work is generally accomplished within the first nine months. However, complex estates can take up to two and a half years or longer. Several factors are involved, each with their own deadlines.

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