Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court: Personal Representative’s Power To Pay Claims Extinguished After Three Years

Estate planningIn In re Estate of Kendall, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided "whether the personal representative of the Estate of Jacqueline Kendall was required to pay a creditor claim for reimbursement from the Commonwealth's MassHealth Program when the estate proceeding was commenced more than three years after Kendall died. The short answer: no." 

Kendall received about $105,000 in Mass Health Benefits before her death (Kendall died intestate in 2014). 

When Kendall died, she had a fifty percent interest in a house in Massachusetts and a portion of it was recoverable by MassHealth under Massachusetts law. In 2018, one of Kendall's heirs filed a petition for late and limited formal testacy and notified MassHealth. MassHealth then informed petitioner's counsel that it would file a notice of claim in the estate. 

The personal representative of the estate informed MassHealth that she could not pay the claim since more than three years had passed since Kendall's death and MassHealth objected.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that although there are exceptions to ultimate time limitations on estates, no such exceptions apply to this particular claim. Massachusetts personal representative power to pay claims is extinguished after three years, with no exceptions. 

See Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court: Personal Representative’s Power To Pay Claims Extinguished After Three Years, Probate Stars, January 4, 2021. 


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