Challenge to Personal Representative Appointment Denied despite MUPC

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rejected a son’s challenge to his father’s personal representative appointment, holding that he didn’t have standing to launch such a challenge, despite apparently being an “interested person” under Massachusetts law.

In this case, a decedent left a Will appointing his wife (who was not the mother of the decedent’s son) as personal representative. The son was not attempting to challenge his father’s underlying Will or estate plan. Instead, he was simply challenging the appointment of his late father’s wife as personal representative.

The son based his argument on the fact that he falls within the definition of “interested person.” However, the Court noted that the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code (MUPC) does not specifically identify the class of persons entitled to challenge the appointment of a personal representative. In other words, simply falling within the definition of an interested person does not automatically render one eligible to challenge a personal representative appointment.

Therefore, the Court analyzed whether the son had standing to make such a challenge. It determined that he did not have standing because the son:

  • The son was explicitly excluded from receiving anything under his father’s will.
  • Acknowledged that his father’s will was indeed valid.
  • The son’s interest in his father’s trust was not enough to give him standing as he was only entitled to what was left after his father’s wife’s death (as the lower court noted, the son could “only receive income and principal from the trust (if any remains). . .”

This was the first time the Massachusetts Supreme Court was presented with this issue.

Old Colony Law TipWe typically recommend naming a backup personal representative or co-personal representative.