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?

UPDATED: Jun 19, 2011

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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


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

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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