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In Massachusetts, Is there a deadline for an heir to file an objection to a creditor claim filed against an intestate estate?

Lowell, MA |

Claims must be filed within one year of the decedent's death, but is there a deadline for an heir to file an objection to one of these creditor's claims? Also, if the estate is insolvent due to a large claim by a government agency, so that the heirs will inherit nothing, do the heirs have the ability to object to smaller creditors' claims that do not affect the heirs' inheritance at all?The heirs do not stand to inherit anyway as a result of the large government claim. The smaller claims, if granted, will simply set off the larger claim when the assets are sold, but will not increase or decrease the heirs inheritance - the heirs will get nothing no matter what. In that case, can an heir still object to a claim that does not affect his inheritance?

Attorney Answers 2


It is my understanding in a Massachusetts insolvent estate probate court proceeding, the probate court follows the respective Massachusetts law and required procedure independent of any action taken by an heir of the insolvent estate.

The applicable Massachusetts law follows:

General Laws of Massachusetts - Chapter 198 Insolvent Estates of Deceased Persons. - Section 1 Order of payment of debts

Section 1. If the estate of a person deceased is insufficient to pay all his debts, it shall, after discharging the necessary expenses of his funeral and last sickness and the charges of administration, be applied to the payment of his debts, which shall include equitable liabilities, in the following order:

First, Debts entitled to a preference under the laws of the United States.

Second, Public rates, taxes, child support arrears and excise duties.

Third, debts due to the division of medical assistance for estates of individuals dying on or after July first, nineteen hundred and ninety-two, regardless of when the assistance was actually provided.

Fourth, wages or compensation, to an amount not exceeding one hundred dollars, due to a clerk, servant or operative for labor performed within one year last preceding the death of such deceased person or for such labor so performed for the recovery of payment for which a judgment has been rendered.

Fifth, debts, to an amount not exceeding one hundred dollars, for necessaries furnished to such person or his family within the six months last preceding his death, or for such necessaries so furnished for the recovery of payment for which a judgment has been rendered.

Sixth, debts due to all other persons.

If there is not enough to pay all the debts of any class, the creditors of that class shall be paid ratably upon their respective debts; and no payment shall be made to creditors of any class until all those of the preceding class or classes, of whose claims the executor or administrator has notice, have been fully paid.

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice. Circular 230 Disclaimer: Any information in this answer may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

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Payment on creditors' claims is determined by the personal representative. Heirs do not have an opportunity to object to payment of a creditor, because no court order is required in order to pay creditors. The heirs have an opportunity to object to the appointment of the personal representative, and, if the personal representative seeks formal court approval of his or her account, the heirs have an opportunity to object to the account as a whole. But, think about it, if no creditor could be paid until everyone had a chance to object, the process would be even longer than it is!

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Thank you. But the creditor filed a suit in superior ct within the one year time limit as they were told they had to do so - not just mention to the administrator that they had a claim. Does that affect the answer? Thanks!

Jennifer A Deland

Jennifer A Deland


Whoever advised the creditor to file suit was correct. The personal representative can ignore creditors who do not have an actual judgment. A creditor who has a judgment will be paid ahead of the government agency, I believe. But your question related to whether the heirs could object to a particular payment. I still believe the answer is "no."



Thank you - that is very hopeful. Could the heir simply file a response to the suit, thus requiring the creditor to litigate the claim extensively, even possibly preventing the creditor from getting a judgment, or is the estate itself the only entity allowed to file a response to the suit? I have been told one heir intends to somehow object and run up the claimant's legal bills until they can't pursue it anymore, even though the claim only offsets what the government will get and does not affect the heir's inheritance at all. Thank you very much!

Jennifer A Deland

Jennifer A Deland


Actually, I'm not sure I was right about a creditor with a judgment getting ahead of the agency. You might want to look at the statute mr colleague David Beliveau quoted for you above. The right of someone who does not have an interest in the outcome to participate in a law suit may be limited by the doctrine of standing. I am curious though. What is the real issue here? You can contact me through my website or through the email link on my Avvo profile.

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