Q: What are steps to take with my mother's estate when she passes away with no will.
My mother and I live in Massachusetts. I have an older brother who lives in NY. My mother is 75 with failing health. My mother owns a house in NY and a house in MA. She has a couple of retirement accounts and has savings and checking accounts. She refuses to get a will. I have asked her to do this several times. I cannot force her to do this. My question is, when she passes away, what are steps I need to take to handle her estate?
A: The transition from child to caretaker is not easy. Educate yourself about the probate process in any way you can, online, adult education, etc. Consult a probate attorney and acquaint him/her with your mother's estate assets so hat when it becomes necessary, you will be prepared.
Your mother appears to reside in Massachusetts and assuming that is the case she would be intestate and depending upon her marital status and whether you and your brother are the only children she has, you and brother have equal ability to file a Petition for Probate of her estate upon her death. You have not stated whether you and your brother could work together on the estate or there is some impediment to doing so. Is the real estate in your mother's sole name? Record title matters at this juncture, so that should be ascertained. There could be an ancillary proceeding in New York if the property is in her sole name there. Sometimes property is held by a joint tenancy with a right of survivorship so that the first to die loses title to the real estate. This is otherwise with a tenancy in common.
If your mother is too unwell to conduct her own financial and medical affairs does she have a Power of Attorney instrument designating an agent? A Health Care proxy? The potential may exist for appointment of a guardian and conservator to act for her. Have her medical personnel indicated such a need?
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