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Massachusetts Estate Planning Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Banking and Probate for Massachusetts on
Q: My wife and I live in Massachusetts. Fifteen or so years ago she opened a bank account in her name only.

She named her brother as recipient of the account if she were to die. As community property, shouldn't the funds come to me? Is what she did legal/legitimate?

Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley
answered on Oct 28, 2022

Massachusetts is not a community property state. The entitlement to the proceeds of the account are governed by whatever bank account agreement your wife signed when she opened the account. If the agreement states her brother is to receive the funds in the event of her death, that agreement is... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Massachusetts on
Q: What are my options regarding my fathers behind on many payments and about to die?

My father is 25000 behind on the mortgage and 12000 for utilities. I am due to inherit the house as stated by him and as I’m next of kin also. I don’t know exactly what will happen if he passes with debt since his cancer is bad and due to pass soon. I want to know what my options are that will... Read more »

Lillian J. LaRosa
Lillian J. LaRosa
answered on Oct 3, 2022

Will you be the sole heir? Is he a Massachusetts resident? If you are the sole heir, then you may be able to take over the mortgage through what is referred to as a "novation" with the mortgage company if that is something the company offers or you may be able to refinance the... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Banking and Probate for Massachusetts on
Q: Does a revocable living trust need to be amended to remove a deceased co-trustee?

Bank is saying they cannot make changes to accounts in a trust's name because their documentation lists my deceased mother as a trustee, so changes (e.g. closing frozen accounts/transferring funds to new accounts) would require her signature... Is this accurate? Even though she is obviously... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
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Nina Whitehurst
answered on Oct 2, 2022

You do not need to amend the trust, usually. The typical solution is to prepare an updated Certification of Trust that recites that the original trustee is deceased and identifies the successor trustee(s).

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law, Estate Planning and Landlord - Tenant for Massachusetts on
Q: What is the easiest way to do a lease to own from parent to son?

I am downsizing and my son/wife want to own my home and we discussed 2 year lease. I am not sure how it works. What do I need to do? Do I become a landlord?

Lillian J. LaRosa
Lillian J. LaRosa
answered on Aug 23, 2022

There can be a Lease and a separate Option to Purchase instrument. It is unclear if you want a Right of First Refusal or an Option with a price setting mechanism.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Massachusetts on
Q: My God mother died recently and gave me instructions to send money to one of my kids. I sent it 2 days after she died.

She verbally left everything to me and her partner and family agrees

Lillian J. LaRosa
Lillian J. LaRosa
answered on Jul 25, 2022

If your godmother was domiciled in Massachusetts she needed to have a Will ( nonverbal- in writing ) with suitable witnessing , etc. so, you have acted without authority in any event and it is up to her heirs or potentially other creditors as to what they wish to do against you for taking the... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Massachusetts on
Q: Can a real estate seller trustee stop a sale after purchase & sale?

My wife and I made an offer on a house and signed a P&S. We discovered the property is in a trust and only trustee #1 signed the P&S. My attorney reviewed the trust and concluded only one trustee is required to sign. She conferred with the bank’s attorney and he came to the same... Read more »

Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley
answered on Jun 6, 2022

This is not the type of straightforward question well suited to a question and answer online forum. It appears there are issues with the trust and the trustees' powers that are specific to this situation. In other words, there is no standard answer to your question. I strongly suggest you... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Massachusetts on
Q: My uncle died with no will, no kids, & both parents deceased. He has 2 living siblings & 1 deceased sibling (my mom)

Am I entitled to my mother's share of his estate or is it just split between my uncle's 2 living siblings? I should have noted he also had no spouse.

Lillian J. LaRosa
Lillian J. LaRosa
answered on Mar 10, 2022

You did not state when he died or whether he was a resident of Massachusetts or if he was married, but assuming he was a Massachusetts resident and died after March 2012 and was not married , then since his parents are dead his siblings and you as the issue of a deceased sibling are the heirs... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Land Use & Zoning, Real Estate Law and Tax Law for Massachusetts on
Q: I owe real state taxes for the city of Methuen MA Can I set up a payment plan are there any options

The total real state taxes with fees and penalties is around 30000, can a payment plan be in placed so I don’t loose my home and also be on time with my current tax bill

Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley
answered on Jan 7, 2022

Contact the tax collector, explain your situation, and see if you can arrive at a payment plan.

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Patents (Intellectual Property) and Probate for Massachusetts on
Q: Is this possible and how can I fix this or what do I do?

My father passed away unexpectedly a couple months ago. June 12th to be exact and a month later after his funeral, I filed intestate probate as he had no will. He had debt and expenses, but his parents took care of it. After legally doing all the paperwork for probate it was done within 3 weeks... Read more »

Lillian J. LaRosa
Lillian J. LaRosa
answered on Sep 7, 2021

If you are appointed Personal Representative of his estate you can and should obtain information from the Registry of Motor Vehicles about the title and transfer information. If assets or monies were stolen from the estate then you may be advised to pursue the parents depending upon whether the sum... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning, Elder Law and Probate for Massachusetts on
Q: My dad left an irrev. trust&my sister & I are co-trustees. Everything's split 50/50.Is it legal for her to take things

My father passed away and left an irrevocable trust. My sister and I are co-executors and everything is divided 50/50. She has gone behind my back and taken things (of significant value). Is that legal and if not what can I do to stop her? My sister and I have been estranged for many years so there... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
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Nina Whitehurst
answered on Jul 10, 2021

Your probate attorney can help you file a petition to require your sister to account for all assets or to have her removed as executor if she is engaging in malfeasance.

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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Civil Litigation, Elder Law and Probate for Massachusetts on
Q: Can an alternate designation written on a will (not a beneficiary) supersede the Heirs-at-law?

A second cousin is named as an alternate in a will. The first cousins are the heirs-at-law. The second cousin is contesting the will.

Lillian J. LaRosa
Lillian J. LaRosa
answered on Jun 28, 2021

If the devisees under the Will are all alive, then it would seem that an alternate designated or conditional beneficiary-devisee would not take under the Will. If the Will is disallowed the heirs under intestacy would take.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Family Law, Child Custody and Child Support for Massachusetts on
Q: If divorced parents were approved to withhold child support, can a support order be modified saying they did not pay?

If there is a uniform support order, and divorce was mediated and both parents waived having one pay child support, with notations by the Judge in the order, can another person modify the order stating that the parent didn't ever pay child support? The parent who supported is deceased.

Lillian J. LaRosa
Lillian J. LaRosa
answered on Jun 2, 2021

This is a very confusing question , particularly if a Modification is being sought against an estate? If there is not an order of child support, is there an order relative to life insurance?

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Massachusetts on
Q: In writing a will that would include property in two states, NH and Mass, would I need an attorney licensed to practice
Nina Whitehurst
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Nina Whitehurst
answered on May 25, 2021

The will only need to comply with the laws of the state in which you reside when the will is made. HOWEVER, do understand that if you create a will-based estate plan, then your estate will have to undergo the probate process in two states (every state in which you own real property). You can... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Massachusetts on
Q: I own my home and have two children. My boyfriend is living with me, legally does he have any rights to my property?
Lillian J. LaRosa
Lillian J. LaRosa
answered on May 20, 2021

It sounds like he is not on the title and did not pay toward its acquisition. Sharing living expenses should not result in an equitable interest. However, if he makes renovations or additions or pays for major pricey repairs, this could be problematic .

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Tax Law for Massachusetts on
Q: If I am setting up a irrevocable living trust with 2 properties do I just complete and sign in front of a notary?

I was wondering if the properties in Mass have to be reregistered at some point or is there anything about the trust setup thats common I have never done this before. Any help is greatly appreciated.

Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley
answered on May 18, 2021

If the plan is for the irrevocable trust to own the properties, and the properties are real property, you need to convey the properties by deed from whoever owns them to the trust.

1 Answer | Asked in Elder Law, Real Estate Law, Estate Planning and Probate for Massachusetts on
Q: I signed over my home to my grandson . Can I reverse this decision? Is there a time limit to do this
Lillian J. LaRosa
Lillian J. LaRosa
answered on Mar 29, 2021

You have not supplied any details as to what the circumstances were and it is possible that you were victimized and coerced into doing so or not competent at the time and may be able to pursue an equity action. Pursuing action sooner is better than later and you don't want to run into any... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Massachusetts on
Q: Realty Trust and/or Family Trust?

My wife and I have 1 single home jointly owned, and a 2-unit rental in my name only (had it since before marriage). We agreed, since we have no kids, after we’re gone, our inheritance goes to my nephews and niece. Wills have been drawn up, if I go first she gets all, the same if she goes first... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
PREMIUM
Nina Whitehurst
answered on Feb 19, 2021

This is a very common concern and there are definitely ways to solve this problem, but this is not a do-it-yourself project. You should hire an estate planning attorney to help you with this. The attorney will explain to you the pros and cons of the various solutions.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Massachusetts on
Q: Does a ‘use and occupancy right’ in a will entitle the beneficiary to also maintain all items in the residence?

Or would the items be a part of the remaining trust property and be distributed to the beneficiaries of the trust? Items in question are furnishings, paintings, clothing, family photos and jewelry. There is no memorandum in the will with these items.

Frederick Lewis Stoker III
Frederick Lewis Stoker III
answered on Feb 12, 2021

Your question is confusing, the "'use and occupancy right' in the will" and a reference to "trust property" implies that there may have been a testamentary trust established. The items within the residence that are not "fixtures" are governed by the will... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law, Probate and Estate Planning for Massachusetts on
Q: I live in MA , my husband died last year, left no will, house in his name only and we have 2 adult children that’s all.

How do I proceed to put house in my name so I may legally sell?

Lillian J. LaRosa
Lillian J. LaRosa
answered on Feb 1, 2021

If all of the children are of your marriage to him or are yours and his, then you take all of the estate. However, you will need to commence an estate in the Norfolk Probate Court if that is the residence county and seek appointment as Personal Representative and notify MassHealth Estate Recovery... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning, Probate and Real Estate Law for Massachusetts on
Q: Property was owned as follows, Mother’s Estate 50%, two daughters 25% each. One daughter paid expenses of home from

Date Mother passed until sale as other daughter refused to sign sale papers if expenses were reimbursed. Expenses were placed in escrow until agreement made. A small claim suit was filed to force release of escrow, but a counter suit was filed for financial and emotional distress. What type of... Read more »

Tim Akpinar
Tim Akpinar
answered on Jan 31, 2021

A Massachusetts attorney could advise best, but your post remains open for two weeks. I'm sorry for the loss of your mother. As a GENERAL matter, there is a tort law cause of action called intentional infliction of emotional distress - but this sounds like it might be something more along the... Read more »

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