What Is Probate?
Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person’s taxes and creditors are paid and assets are distributed. Typically, this process takes place as a validation of the person’s will, the document in which the deceased designated heirs and beneficiaries. If the individual has died without a will (intestate), his or her property will be distributed according to intestacy laws.
What Is a Living Trust?
A living trust is a legal document into which you transfer property so that you no longer legally own it. Though you are the grantor, you can appoint yourself as a trustee so that you retain the ability to manage your own funds during your lifetime. The advantage to having your property in a living trust is that the funds the trust holds are automatically transferred to your designated beneficiaries at the time of your death, avoiding probate with its costs and delays. The living trust also protects your privacy in a way that a will, a matter of public record, cannot.
How Long Is The Length of Probate?
The American Bar Association states that the probate process takes 6 to 9 months to complete, but in Massachusetts, it usually takes a year. Although the process can last even longer if the will is challenged (contested) or if the estate is large and complicated, the process can also be abbreviated to only a few months if the estate is under $25,000 and simple to administer.
How Expensive is Probate?
Costs of probate in Massachusetts vary from 3 to 8 percent of the estate’s value, which includes executor fees, court fees, and attorneys’ fees.