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The estate must go through an inventory and reconciliation before any assets can be distributed. TOD, POD and direct beneficiary are all held up until the process is complete. All liabilities must be identified and satisfied. This process takes at least 4 months. I have seen it take over 2 years when the deceased had a home that appeared to be "underwater" on the mortgage. Only then do the remaining assets go to probate.

That was not required in MA at the time that the estate I described was settled. The TOD account was distributed prior to estate settlement, and the executor used the sale proceeds from the condo to pay all expenses, so perhaps was able to prove that the condo value was sufficient to get that account released. I don't know how that worked. I just know that it happened, and I do know the timing. I also know that it didn't have to be that way, but the executor chose to allow their own father to become homeless where that could have been avoided, but the conflict of interest was that the executor's own daughter was the one inheriting all that money, and knowing the executor, I'm pretty sure they also got a piece of that from the daughter.

Since we live in MA, we vowed not to leave our kids with any sort of mess. We also want both kids to inherit equally, and have things set up to do that. DD is in much better financial shape than DS by virtue of career choice, but they will both get the same amount when we pass on.
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