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A Checklist to Avoid Probate

Why Avoiding Probate in certain instances is prudent?


It allows assets to be transferred or utilized faster by your loved ones.


One way to avoid probate is to have your assets move directly to the person or entity of your choice by operation of law upon your death. In other words, a bank, life insurance company or retirement account administrator will have received written instructions from you while you are alive to move the asset to the person or entity of your choice directly upon your death. This instruction may be in the form of a physical card or a form filled out, signed and presented to the company. Without these instructions, your heirs or your executor will have to prove to the bank or the life insurance company or retirement plan administrator that you have the power to transfer the assets or benefits and they will require proof by way of a Probate Court order or filing. This one extra step can prolong the time period for the transfer of funds to the heirs or beneficiaries.



Items to Check



Insurance Policies


Make sure you review the policies to ensure that you have designated your beneficiaries and contingent beneficiaries clearly and correctly. A contingent beneficiary receives the benefits under the policy in the event that the primary beneficiary is not alive when the policy is due to be paid.


Retirement Benefits

In the case of a retirement benefit, you should review the documentation on file with the retirement administrator to make sure that you have designated your beneficiaries and contingent beneficiaries clearly and correctly.


Bank Accounts

For bank accounts, you should check to make sure that you have designated your beneficiaries and contingent beneficiaries clearly and correctly.


Personal property


As for tangible personal property, Massachusetts allows you to create a written list referred to in your will which specifically gives certain items of tangible personal property (not money) to your desired beneficiaries upon your death where these items have not already been disposed of by the will. See Mass. G. L. c. 190B, §2-513. General Law - Part II, Title II, Chapter 190B, ArticleII, Section 2-513 (malegislature.gov) The list can be created before the signing of your will, at the same time, or afterwards. The list may be changed without changing the contents of the will. You may also want to give certain individuals their gifts of personal property while you are alive by having them take ownership and possession of the personal property while you are alive.


If you would like a free initial consultation to discuss creating your personalized estate plan, please contact the Law Offices of Martin I. Flax, P.C. at flaxlaw@gmail.com.



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