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zealous advocacy by the Boston Bar Association (BBA) in partnership with the Massachusetts Bar Association to reform an outdated probate system, the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code will go into effect on January 2, 2012.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.