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Technical Changes to MUPC and new Mass Uniform Trust Code Enacted

© Attorney Douglas R. Peterson 2012

On July 8, 2012 Governor Patrick signed more important legislation affecting estates and probate, guardianship, conservatorship, and trusts. This legislation included many technical changes to many sections of the Mass Uniform Probate Code and added some additional provisions. The new law makes it clear that a personal representative, whether under formal or informal procedures can sell real estate. If there is a will which contains a power of sale, under appropriate circumstances the sale can be done without obtaining judicial approval by way of a license to sell. Previously real estate lawyers and title insurers were doubtful of the power of a personal representative under a will on an informal probate to sell real estate even though authorized by the will because the statute did not authorize any personal representative to sell real estate. In addition, the new legislation revises the fee schedule for the probate court which for the most part has resulted in higher fees. The law is effective immediately.

Included in this legislation is the new Massachusetts Uniform Trust Code which effectively codifies and updates the Massachusetts law relative to trusts. Trusts created under the new law are presumed to be revocable absent specific language to the contrary. The new law also provides for action by a majority of trustees instead of by unanimous action which was previously the rule. The law relative to trusts for pets was recodified under the MUTC with one major change relative to the rule against perpetuities in which the measuring lives are those of animals rather than humans. Another important change is that a trust without specific beneficiaries is now possible even for non charitable purposes. The law also provides additional authority for the Courts to sanction modification or termination of trusts. It is interesting to note that the law specifically permits a trustee to terminate a trust of less than $200,000 on the basis that it would be uneconomical to continue. This is going to put an additional burden on those with modest estates who do not want outright distributions to beneficiaries to think about options other than trusts.  The new law also makes it clear that property in a revocable trust at death is subject to the claims of all creditors of the decedent as well as administration expenses of the estate.

With the overhaul of the laws relating to wills, trusts and probate now being complete, it would be more perilous than ever for someone to consider any kind of do it yourself product for a will or trust. We are thoroughly familiar with these new laws and prepared to help you navigate your way to a successful and effective estate plan. Call now to arrange a consultation.