Settling the affairs of a Loved One, and safeguarding the Estate

You will be making many decisions that affect how the estate is settled. It's important to get a complete understanding of the many estate settlement procedures and rules that may be relevant to your estate. Here's one small example:

house William passed away in 2008, leaving the house he owned with his wife Nancy as "Tenants by the Entirety." Before his death, William (but not Nancy) had signed a mortgage on the property. The mortgage Lender "could have made a claim against William's estate" but the Lender did not file the claim within the Massachusetts timeline for settlement of estates.

judge pen and gavel

The Massachusetts Appeals Court decided the Lender could not enforce the mortgage against Nancy. Read the case. But the lender, Wells Fargo, hasn't given up yet. It hired a new attorney who is asking for a rehearing. Appeals Court docket.

If you are the Personal Representative for the estate, it is your decision on whether to hire an Attorney. By selecting an experienced Attorney who understands the legal process and techniques for saving time and money, you can make sure that:

  • Estate Settlement runs smoothly and efficiently
  • Attorney fees and costs are predictable and contained
  • Time-consuming disputes among family members or heirs are prevented
  • Estate property is distributed promptly and efficiently

I do not charge fees based on a percentage of the estate. My clients receive a Service Plan that covers the necessary tasks. The estate pays only for the time that is actually needed to complete each task. We can settle the Estate, and obtain the Court Decree to close the Estate, with the best results for you and your family. To get the process started, print out the PDF FormEstate Assets Checklist and Certification Form, and call to schedule an educational meeting. Learn how we safeguard and settle the estate: (413) 567-5600.

The days following the death of a loved one may seem overwhelming. I can help you complete the tasks that are necessary to protecting and settling the estate. Here is a checklist of steps you can take immediately:

Notify family and friends
Arrange for Memorial Service
Publish an Obituary
Arrange for organ donation if decedent has directed
Take Care of Decedent's Pets
Arrange for Security at Decedent's Residence
Contact Decedent's Insurance Agent, and Arrange for Continuation of Fire, Theft, and Liability Insurance on Decedent's Residence and other Properties
Cancel or Rearrange Home Delivery of Services, Newspapers, and Mail
Arrange for care or disposal of perishables like food and plants

Next, begin the process of gathering the estate assets by downloading the PDF FormEstate Assets Checklist and Certification Form. I can advise you on the best ways to protect yourself and the estate, and maximize the value of assets that are distributed to your family members.

Can anyone tell me what a person can do to stop an executor of the will if he can't be trusted? This executer has not filed the will with probate court.

How do I find out if my mother had a life insurance policy when she died?

The many details include terminating government benefit payments. Monthly Social Security benefits are paid in the month following the month for which they are due; for example, you would receive your July benefit in August. If a beneficiary dies in July, benefits are not payable for July, the month of death. You would keep the check received in July, since it is payment for June. The check received in August (which is payment for July) must be returned. If direct deposit is used, also notify the financial institution of the death as soon as possible so it can return any payments received after death.

If the decedent was receiving Aid and Attendance or other Veteran's benefits, the next of kin or Personal Representative of the Estate should call 1-877-838-2778 and request that the VA payments be stopped. Like Social Security, the VA also pays one month in arrears; the check received in July is for the month of June. Therefore, the estate of a single veteran with no dependents who passes in July will keep the check received in July. However, the August check (for July) must be returned. If the veteran was married or leaves a dependent child, the check for the entire month of death can be kept. The next of kin or Personal Representative of the Veteran’s Estate should apply for burial benefits of $300.00 for plot and $300.00 for burial, using form 21-530. These benefits can reimburse you if you have already paid for the burial or the plot.