Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Massachusetts

Responsibilities of executor and rights of heirs

Is it required, in Massachusetts, that the executor of an estate provide an accounting of funds to the heirs named in a will before an estate is closed? In addition, are the signatures of those heirs needed to verify that the executor's handling of an estate has been proper? If an executor of an estate refuses to provide an accounting to the heirs, what recourse do those heirs have? Thank you for any help you can provide

Asked on 1/08/99, 9:33 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Alan Pransky Law Office of Alan J. Pransky
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Responsibilities of executor and rights of heirs

In Massachusetts, an executor is required to file annual accounts with the court. If he fails to do so,

you can file a Petition to Render Account with the probate court and force the accounting.

Alan Pransky

Law Office of Alan J. Pransky

20 Eastbrook Road


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1/26/99, 10:35 pm
Patricia Joyce Law Office of Patricia M. Joyce
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Responsibilities of executor and rights of heirs

Your inquiry mentions both Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Since I am licensed in both jurisdictions, I will

generally address the issues and you may contact me

if there are further questions.

An executor is required to render a final accounting to

the probate court, along with releases from the heirs

indicating that they have received their bequests.

There is no requirement that the executor render an

accounting specifically to the heirs; however, the heir

can request an accounting before releasing the executor.

The signature of an heir on a release does not

specifically mean that the executor's handling of

the estate has been proper; however, it may be implied

because the heir's signature releases the executor from

further liability with respect to that heir's shares.

If an executor refuses to supply an accounting to the

heirs, the recourse is to refuse to sign a release

and the heir may also petition the court to schedule

a hearing for the executor to present detailed

information to the heirs and the court. In the event

of such a hearing, it would be helpful for the heirs

to be represented by their own counsel.

If I can be of further assistance, please do not

hesitate to contact me.

Patricia Joyce

Law Office of Patricia M. Joyce

Suite 25, 1050 Main Street


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1/25/99, 10:36 pm
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Re: Responsibilities of executor

You don't account directly to the heirs. You account to

the probate court, which is public record. Generally when the

estate is finally being wound up (closed), legal heirs are asked

to sign off on a final accounting; however, if they choose not to

sign off, they will have to come to court to defend their point of

view in order to prevent the judge from ordering the estate closed.

Call me if the decedent resided in Mass. and if I can be of any help;

my number is 888-527-0050.

Good luck.

Stuart Williams

Law Offices of Stuart J. Williams

21 Walter St.


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1/26/99, 1:16 am

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