Do I need a probate lawyer in the state where my father died, or can I retain one in the state in which I live?

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Do I need a probate lawyer in the state where my father died, or can I retain one in the state in which I live?

I live in CA; my father lived in MA. He died without a Will, was divorced, and I am his only child. Do I need a probate lawyer to access non-life insurance matters (bank accounts, car, etc.) or can I file to become executor of his estate myself? If I need a probate lawyer, does s/he need to be in MA?

Asked on June 19, 2011 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You can hire an attorney. If you do you will need to hire one in MA where the probate will occur. However, you could also have yourself appointed Personal Representative (this is the equivalent of an executor when there is no Will). Additionally, depending on the size of his estate you could file for a "voluntary administration". This allows a small estate to be administered with less time and cost. In MA you can use this simplified estate process if the value of the estate doesn't exceed $15,000 and does not include real estate.

To use voluntary administration a Personal Administrator files a written request with the local probate court asking to use it. The court may then authorize the distributionthe assets. For more information contact the probate court in the county in which your father was domiciled as of the date of his death; it is the court that has jurisdiction over his estate.


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