The process of transferring assets from a decedent’s estate to their beneficiaries and heirs is known as probate. In short, probate ensures the following:
- There is someone in charge of distributing the estate
- Debts that are owed by the deceased person get paid
- The estate gets correctly distributed
There is very little difference between each state, with costs being the main difference.
Massachusetts Probate Fees
One of the greatest disadvantages of probate is the cost. The more it costs, the less your beneficiaries will inherit. Many factors can influence the cost, including:
- The size of the estate
- Which state you live in
- Whether someone contests your estate plan or not
- How complicated is your estate plan
However, some fees are consistent in the probate process. Below are the most common fees you’ll likely pay at some point during probate (as per Mass.gov).
|TYPE OF PLEADING||FILING FEE||SURCHARGE (IF APPLICABLE)|
Note: There’s no separate fee for the initial Letters of appointment of the initial appointment bond of a fiduciary.
|Appointment of a Receiver of the Estate of an Absentee, Petition||$200||$15|
|Appointment of Special Personal Representative, Petition||$375||$15|
|Appointment of a Trustee, Petition||$375||$15|
|Approval of Compromise, Petition||$75|
|Care of Burial Lot||$60|
|Counsel Fees, Petition||$150|
|Determination of Value, Petition||$75|
|Erection of Monument||$60|
|Filing a will for safekeeping – except that no additional fee gets charged for filing a will in substitution for one previously filed and withdrawn||$75|
|Filing of a Declaration of Common Trust Fund||$400||$15|
|Foreign Personal Representative Sworn Statement||$75||$15|
|Formal Probate of Will, Adjudication of Intestacy and Appointment of Personal Representative, Petition||$375||$15|
|Formal Appointment of Successor Personal Representative, Petition||$375||$15|
|Formal Removal of Personal Representative, Petition||$100|
|General Petition, Probate||$150||$15|
|General Petition, Trust||$375||$15|
|Informal Probate of Will and/or Appointment of Personal Representative, Petition||$375||$15|
|Informal Appointment of Successor Personal Representative, Petition||$375||$15|
|Leave to Deposit Certain Funds||$200|
|Order of Complete Settlement, Petition||$75|
|Payment of Deposits, Petition||No fee|
|Public Administration, Petition||$100||$15|
|Removal of a Fiduciary||$100|
|Resignation of a Fiduciary||No fee|
|Representation of Insolvency||$150|
|Small Estate Closing Statement||$75|
|Supervised Administration, Petition||$375||$15|
|Termination of Trust, Petition||$240||$15|
|Vacate a Formal Order, Petition||$150|
|Voluntary Administration, Statement||$100||$15|
|Citation or summons fees don’t get included in the fees listed. An additional $15 is payable for every citation, and each summons is an additional $5. The plaintiff/petitioner must pay for publication costs. Other costs and fees for the action need to get paid even if there’s no initial filing fee, such as summons, citation, or copy fees.|
|A $15 surcharge is payable to the Register if you enter a petition, complaint, or any other civil action that’s got a separate docket number and an initial filing fee. There is no surcharge payable if you’re adding a suffix.|
Probate Attorney Fees
Lawyers use one of three methods to charge for probate work:
- Hourly: Billing by the hour is the most common method used by attorneys. Depending on the state and how much experience the probate attorney has, the rate and cost to hire will vary.
- Flat fee: An attorney who has done multiple probates will charge a flat fee, as they know how long it will take. Clients are also more comfortable when they know the total probate attorney fees upfront.
- A percentage of the estate: Lawyers in seven states are allowed to collect a percentage of the estate’s value as their fee.
Expect to pay higher attorney fees if the estate is complex.
A probate attorney’s fees and most other probate costs get paid out of the estate. The estate’s value will reduce due to this, where it could go to your beneficiaries.
How to Avoid Paying Probate Fees
To avoid probate fees in Massachusetts, you can put a few things in place in your Estate Plan.
Create a Trust
A trust avoids probate and makes the settling of an estate process cheaper, simpler, and more private. Probate is a public process, whereas trusts aren’t. If privacy is a concern for you, then a trust will be the best option to keep it private and avoid probate fees.
Create Transfer on Death or Payable on Death Accounts
Transfer on Death (TOD) and Payable on Death (POD) accounts are exactly what they sound like. When you die, they transfer any assets to your named beneficiaries immediately, with no cost and no court.
Life Insurance Policies
Life Insurance policies are similar to POD and TOD accounts, as they have named beneficiaries. Payouts can often get paid with only a provided death certificate. A small fee will be payable to get the death certificate, but the cost will be less than the probate process.
Update Your Beneficiaries
Make sure you update your beneficiaries every few years to ensure that beneficiaries haven’t changed. Beneficiaries will change should you get married, there’s a death, birth, or any other major life event. To ensure your estate gets distributed quickly, add a contingent beneficiary, also known as a backup. This is for if your first choice beneficiary is unwilling or unable to accept their inheritance.
Jointly Title Your Property
If you title property jointly, the property will, upon your death, automatically get passed to your significant other or whoever is on the title.
Need to Sell Your Home Quickly During Probate?
We believe you need to avoid probate court at all costs when setting up your estate in Massachusetts. Your family will have an easier time financially and will get to grieve easier.
If your house is in probate and you need to sell it, call us for a free, no-obligation cash offer or arrange a consultation at 781-309-7085, or contact us via email.
We can buy your house through our “Fast Cash Offer” option or sell it for top dollar. It’s our priority to ensure you have the necessary advice to make the best decision for your situation.
Reach out to us if you want a real estate expert to contact you to discuss your options!