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Claim Against A Massachusetts Decedent Must Be Made Within One Year Of Death Even If No Estate Is Opened

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2019 | Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning and Administration

Claims against New Hampshire decedents are to be noticed upon the personal representative of an estate within six months and if the claim is not approved then the claim is to be brought against the estate within one year.  The idea is that you can’t sue the decedent and it is appropriate to deal with the personal representative appointed by the court.

Massachusetts has a strict one-year from the date of death rule for bringing claims against the decedent even if there no estate that has been opened. There may be a circumstance where the decedent’s representatives might do nothing for over that one-year period.  However, if they were to open an estate after that one-year period to then administer an asset that needs to go through probate, the creditor claims might be barred.  The Massachusetts statute provides that creditors can request that a special administration is opened so they, in turn, can bring a claim.  It would be a mistake in dealing with a claim against a decedent in Massachusetts to merely wait to see if an estate is opened.

You should speak with an attorney who is licensed in Massachusetts to assist you in that regard.  It may be possible to bring the law suit in New Hampshire if that would had been proper if the Massachusetts resident decedent were still alive but still take the required steps in Massachusetts to preserve the claim within the one year of death. It is important to contact an attorney before the one-year period after that date has lapsed so that you can preserve your claims. There are some exceptions to the one year period but they are limited.

J. Daniel Marr is a Director and Shareholder at Hamblett & Kerrigan, P.A. His legal practice includes counseling businesses and individuals on a variety of legal issues and advocating on their behalf. Attorney Marr is licensed and practices in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Attorney Marr can be reached at [email protected].