Following more than a decade of zealous advocacy by the Boston Bar
Association (BBA) in partnership with the Massachusetts Bar Association to
reform an outdated probate system, the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code will
go into effect on January 2, 2012. This new law makes the estate administration
process simpler, more efficient and, in some cases, less expensive.
"Longstanding probate law and procedures will change dramatically when
the MUPC takes effect, replacing 15 chapters from our current laws on estate
administration," said Peter M. Shapland, Co-Chair of the BBA Trusts &
Estates Section Pro Bono Committee and a partner at Day Pitney LLP. "Inevitably
the change in the law will create a period of uncertainty and even confusion for
trusts and estates lawyers as well as pro se petitioners while the community
adjusts to the new laws, rules and forms."
As an overburdened and underfunded Massachusetts Probate & Family
Court works diligently to prepare for the January 2, 2012 implementation of
those portions of the new Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code (MUPC) pertaining
to estates and trusts, the BBA today announced that its Trusts and Estates
Section will join forces with the Massachusetts Bar Association's (MBA) Probate
Section to provide help easing the transition to this new system of laws.
Designed with the input of Chief Justice Paula M. Carey and her
staff, this unique public service initiative is expected to last for 8 to 10
months, and will be multi-pronged. A key feature will be an MUPC Resource
Desk in the probate registries staffed by lawyers who have already availed
themselves of MUPC training provided by both the BBA and the MBA.
"This public service initiative is a good example of the organized
bar coming forward to help the Court during a time of severe budget shortfalls,"
said Cameron Casey, Co-Chair of the BBA Trusts & Estates Section Pro Bono
Committee and an associate at Ropes & Gray LLP.
The BBA intends to focus its efforts on the probate courts and registries
in the Boston area, including those in Suffolk, Middlesex, Norfolk and Essex
Counties, while the MBA is expected to focus on leveraging its relationships
with bar organizations around the Commonwealth to provide MUPC resources to
other counties in Massachusetts. In most cases, the MUPC Resource Desk at each
participating registry will be staffed for two mornings each week.
Another key feature of this public service initiative
will be leveraging the blog
of the BBA Trusts & Estates Section. In addition to providing feature posts
on various aspects of the MUPC for attorneys interested in learning more about
the new law, a special BBA team of trusts and estates lawyers will respond to
questions lawyers may pose.
In the spring of 2012, when the MUPC has been in
effect for a few months, the BBA's Trusts and Estates Section and the MBA's
Probate Section will coordinate with the Court to jointly host brown bag lunches
for attorneys at the Court. This will provide a forum for judges, court
staff and lawyers to discuss which aspects of the law are working well and which
create uncertainty or undesirable results.