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What is supervised probate in Massachusetts?

On Behalf of | May 3, 2021 | Estate Planning |

When someone dies, the probate courts have the authority to oversee the administration of their estate. Massachusetts probate laws guide how people plan their estates and how executors carry out their last wishes.

Most of the time, testators make plans that aim to limit the involvement of the probate courts in the estate administration process, as going through probate can be costly and time-consuming. Beneficiaries and executors are often equally keen to keep the time spent in court to a minimum.

Still, there are situations in which keeping the probate courts involved in the administration of an estate can be a good decision. Supervised probate is one of the various kinds of formal probate in Massachusetts, and in certain circumstances, it can be useful for those handling an estate or who will benefit from one.

How does supervised probate work?

As you can likely tell from the name, supervised probate involves courts overseeing every step of estate administration. It is a specific kind of formal probate, which requires court involvement and oversight.

The executor will have to submit documentation to the courts for most of the steps that they take, ranging from repaying creditors to distributing personal property to the family members of the deceased. Only when the probate courts review everything and approve the distribution of property can the executor then give assets to specific people or begin the process of liquidating certain assets.

Supervised probate creates judicial oversight during each stage in the estate’s administration and also provides an authoritative record of what occurred and when. While it isn’t common, it can be beneficial in certain circumstances.

Why do people choose supervised probate?

Supervised probate can be a good idea in families where there is a high level of conflict or when beneficiaries of the estate feel worried about a conflict of interest or embezzlement from the estate affecting their inheritance. It ensures that the representative of the estate cannot act with impunity and must instead comply with the estate plan and state law carefully.

Those concerned about conflict between beneficiaries or issues with how an executor manages an estate may want to explore whether asking for supervised probate or leaving instructions for it in their own estate plan might be the best approach.