Monday, September 26, 2011

Changes coming to Mass probate law

Over the weekend I spoke with an attorney who had attended a seminar on major changes that are coming to Massachusetts probate law in 2012.  Surprisingly, this was the first I've heard of these changes which have apparently already been enacted by the legislature and signed by the governor.  I found THIS WEBSITE which contains the Massachusetts version of the Uniform Probate Code which I believe is the basis of the relevant statutory amendments.  While these changes will have a greater impact on the registry of probate than on the registry of deeds, quite a lot of real estate changes hands through probate proceedings and so we'll have to fully understand the new law and its implications for us.

One new feature that will have a direct effect on the registry of deeds is something called a "deed of distribution."  For a century or more, the documentary evidence of a change of ownership occasioned by a death has been the papers of the probate estate.  Beginning in 2012, however, the personal representative of the estate (formerly called the executor or the administrator) will execute a document called a deed of distribution that will serve as evidence of the new owner's title.  Presumably, that deed will have to be recorded here at the registry of deeds.

Here are two sections of the Uniform Probate Code that directly address this issue:

Section 3-907. [Distribution in Kind;  Evidence.]
If distribution in kind is made, the personal representative shall execute an instrument or deed of distribution assigning, transferring or releasing the assets to the distributee as evidence of the distributee’s title to the property.

Section 3-908. [Distribution;  Right or Title of Distributee.]
Proof that a distributee has received an instrument or deed of distribution of assets in kind, or payment in distribution, from a personal representative, is conclusive evidence that the distributee has succeeded to the interest of the estate in the distributed assets, as against all persons interested in the estate, except that the personal representative may recover the assets or their value if the distribution was improper.

No comments: