What is the Deadline for Probating an Estate?
Under Massachusetts law, a probate matter should be opened within three years after the date of death. In most cases, if there is a need for probate to transfer title to real property, bank accounts, vehicles or other assets, that need will become apparent well within the three year period.
Sometimes, however, the three years does pass, either because there has been no attempt to sell assets, or there were assets unknown to the heirs at the time of death. In that case, the rules allow you to file a "late and limited" probate matter, if the person died on or after March 31, 2012, no other estate proceeding has been filed within three years of death, and you only need the proceedings to confirm ownership of assets.
A personal representative appointed in the late and limited proceeding will have authority to administer the estate, but will not have authority to sell real estate. This means that if there is any real estate that did not pass automatically, you should pay careful attention to the three year deadline.
Learn more here about how to initiate the probate process.
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