Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009
Governor Patrick signs MBA's uniform probate code legislation; weighs liability legislation
The Massachusetts Bar Association commends Governor Deval Patrick for signing into law comprehensive probate reforms that were nearly two decades in the making.
“The legislation has been a decades long collaborative effort between the bench and bar reaching out to all areas of the state. We made a tremendous push in the last days of the legislative session,” MBA General Counsel and Acting Executive Director Martin W. Healy. “The practice of probate law is complicated even to probate experts. This legislation demystifies and cleans up existing ambiguities dating back hundreds of years.”
Senate Bill Number 2622, An Act Relative to the Uniform Probate Code, simplifys and improves Massachusetts probate and trust law. The new probate code reduces needless expense in probate and trust administration, benefiting citizens throughout the commonwealth.
The reforms increase uniformity with other states, add protections for those under guardianship and the beneficiaries of trusts, eases the administration of probate matters for judges and court personnel and reduce delays for citizens. Among the changes are:
Mandating courts to monitor guardianships and requiring guardians to issue annual reports;
Shorten to seven days after the date of death (from as long as five months) the length of time it takes to appoint an estate administrator;
In the case of no will, the spouse gets the entire estate if the children are all of the marriage; and
Trustees will be required to notify beneficiaries of accountings and acceptance of appointment.
The UPC is the product of a comprehensive study and review of the state’s laws by the joint committee of the MBA and Boston Bar Association. The legislation was reviewed by lawyers, judges, registers of probate, community groups, legislators and representatives of the banking and surety communities.
The MBA's House of Delegates approved the UPC 10 years ago.
Patrick is also considering House Bill No. 4883, An Act Relative to Municipal Fines. Please call Governor Patrick to voice your opposition to this legislation
Click here to view the MBA's letter of opposition.
Specifically, the MBA objects to Section 5 of the legislation which seeks to amend Massachusetts tort law altering the negligence standard for snow and ice removal from sidewalks from negligence to gross negligence. Furthermore, the language embodied in Section 5 of this legislation is identical to language contained in Section 1 of House Bill No. 1987, which was heard before the Municipalities and Regional Government Committee and subsequently placed in study. The language then resurfaced in House Bill No. 4883 and negates the intent of the remainder of the bill which is to address appropriate removal of snow and ice.
Call the Governor's office today at (617) 725-4000.