Alert: Effective Date of Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code Deferred to January 2, 2012

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Brad Bedingfield, Esq., Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP

On January 15, 2009, the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code (the “MUPC”) was signed into law. Certain provisions of the MUPC, pertaining to guardians, conservators, and durable powers of attorney, came into effect on July 1, 2009. The remainder of the MUPC was set to come into effect on July 1, 2011, and includes provisions that will streamline procedures for appointment of personal representatives and for probate of certain estates, limit court supervision over testamentary trusts, liberalize requirements for disposition of tangible personal property, and change certain default rules relating to intestate succession, division of property among descendants, omitted children, and the effects of marriage and divorce on estate planning documents.

In late 2010, Chief Justice Carey of the Probate and Family Court sought deferral of this July 1, 2011 starting date, in light of certain staffing and budgetary pressures facing the courts. In response to Chief Justice Carey’s request, the legislature included in a supplemental appropriations bill (Bill H5128) a provision (Section 24) deferring implementation of the remaining provisions of the MUPC until January 2, 2012. Governor Patrick signed the bill on January 3, 2011.