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Guide File a late and limited formal probate for an estate

There are several reasons why you may need to petition for late and limited formal probate. Find out how to file a late and limited formal probate for an estate and what forms you'll need.

Table of Contents

1. Find out if you need to petition for a late and limited formal probate

You may need to petition for late and limited formal probate for several reasons, including if:

  • The decedent died on or after March 31, 2012, and
  • No original proceeding related to the estate has happened within 3 years of the death, and
  • A formal testacy or appointment proceeding is needed only to confirm title in the successors to estate assets.

Otherwise, please see Learn about the types of probate for an estate to learn about the other types of probate.

Key Actions for 1. Find out if you need to petition for a late and limited formal probate

2. Fill out the forms

There are different forms you'll need to file depending on whether or not the decedent (the person who has died) died with a will.

If the decedent died with a will

You’ll need to file:

If the decedent died without a will

You’ll need to file:

Additional forms you may need to file

Key Actions for 2. Fill out the forms

Additional Resources for 2. Fill out the forms

3. Gather the fees

You'll need to file one of two petition filing fees depending on whether or not the petition is for a public administrator, as well as surcharge and citation fees. Contact the Probate & Family Court location you're filing at to find out what forms of payment are accepted for fees. 

Name Fee
Formal late and limited probate petition filing fee $375
Formal late and limited probate petition by a public administrator filing fee $100
Formal late and limited probate surcharge fee $15
Formal late and limited probate citation fee $15

4. File the forms and fees

There are 3 ways you can file a late and limited formal probate.

Online

You can eFile a late and limited formal probate for an estate online. For information on how to eFile, please see Learn about eFiling in the Trial Court.

By mail

You can mail the forms and fees to the correct Probate & Family Court.

  • If the decedent lived in Massachusetts — File in the county where they lived when they died.
  • If the decedent didn't live in Massachusetts — File in any county where the decedent had property when they died. You may need to file additional forms in the state where the decedent lived as well.

In person

You can file the forms and fees in person at the correct Probate and Family Court.

  • If the decedent lived in Massachusetts — File in the county where they lived when they died.
  • If the decedent didn't live in Massachusetts — File in any county where the decedent had property when they died. You may need to file additional forms in the state where the decedent lived as well.

5. Check the status of your case

To find out how to check the status of your probate case, please see How to search court dockets.

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