MBA supports sweeping reform of state probate system

Issue February 2008 By Jennifer Rosinski

Massachusetts Bar Association President David W. White Jr. testified in favor of bills that would overhaul the common-wealth’s archaic probate system before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary at the Statehouse last month.

If approved, Senate bill 843 and House bill1652 would update probate and trust law to increase uniformity with other states, add protections for those under guardianship and ease the administration of probate matters for judges and court personnel.

“The proposed code will benefit consumers by reducing probate expense and delay. It will modernize the law, bringing it into the 21st century from some of its still-existing colonial roots and procedures,” White testified before the committee on Jan. 24.

“This legislation is widely supported and will simplify probate and trust administra-tion, benefiting citizens throughout the commonwealth. We are ready to assist the committee in every way to help pass these bills,” White added.

The Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code is the product of a comprehensive study and review of the state’s laws by the MBA and the Boston Bar Association, whose president, Anthony Doniger, testified with White at the Statehouse. The MBA's House of Delegates approved the Uniform Probate Code 10 years ago.

Nearly two dozen panelists hosted by the MBA and BBA testified:

• Thomas J. Carey Jr., Esq., adjunct faculty, Boston College Law School, Boston
• John J. Ford, Esq., director, Elder Law Project at Neighborhood Legal Services, Lynn; president, board of directors, Massachusetts Guardianship Association
• Wynn Gerhard, Esq., managing attorney, Greater Boston Legal Services, Boston
• Sandy Hovey, supervisor of elder protective services, ETHOS, Jamaica Plain
• Jennifer Laucirica, Esq., Cushing & Dolan PC, Boston
• Mark A. Leahy, Esq., Whittum & Leahy, Quincy
• Dr. Jennifer Moye, Ph.D., director, Geriatric Mental Health Clinic, VA Boston; assistant professor, Harvard Medical School.
• Frederick L. Nagle Jr., Esq., Haverhill
• Al Norman, executive director, Mass Home Care, Burlington
• Emily Shea, executive director, Boston Partnership for Older Adults, Dorchester
• Hon. James Wade (Ret.), Probate Court, Denver
• Hon. Herbert Wilkins (Ret.), Supreme Judicial Court, Boston