File a formal probate for an estate

Find out how to file a formal probate for an estate and what forms you'll need.

Probate and Family Court

The Details

What you need

Formal probate matters are typically heard by a judge and may involve one or more hearings before the court. A formal probate proceeding requires both written notice and publication notice before the allowance of the formal petition. There are different forms you'll need to file depending on whether or not the decedent died with a will.

If the decedent died with a will, you should file:

  • Petition for Formal Probate of Will/Adjudication of Intestacy/Appointment of PR (MPC 160)
  • Surviving Spouse, Children, Heirs at Law (MPC 162)
  • Devisees (MPC 163)
  • The original will if it's available, or if not, a statement of will contents 
  • A certified copy of the death certificate if it's available, or if not, an affidavit 
  • Citation-Return of Service (MPC 560), which will be issued to you by the court 
  • Decree and Order on Petition for Formal Adjudication (MPC 755)

You may also need to file:

  • Bond (MPC 801) if you want to appoint a personal representative
  • Military Affidavit (MPC 470) if all interested parties don't agree to the petition
  • An authenticated copy of the will and appointment if it's for an ancillary probate proceeding
  • Assent and Waiver of Notice/Renunciation/Nomination/Waiver of Sureties (MPC 455)
  • Affidavit as to cause of death (MPC 475), execution (MPC 480), domicile (MPC 485) or no conflict of a conservator 
  • Proof of guardianship/conservatorship
  • Uniform Counsel Certification Form (CCF 4/07) 

 If the decedent died without a will, you should file:

  • Petition for Formal Probate of Will/Adjudication of Intestacy/Appointment of PR (MPC 160)
  • Surviving Spouse, Children, Heirs at Law (MPC 162)
  • A certified copy of the death certificate if it's available, or if not, an affidavit 
  • Citation-Return of Service (MPC 560), which will be issued to you by the court 
  • Decree and Order on Petition for Formal Adjudication (MPC 755)

You may also need to file:

  • Bond (MPC 801) if you want to appoint a personal representative
  • Military Affidavit (MPC 470) if all interested parties don't agree to the petition
  • Assent and Waiver of Notice/Renunciation/Nomination/Waiver of Sureties (MPC 455)
  • Affidavit as to cause of death (MPC 475), domicile (MPC 485) or no conflict of a conservator
  • Proof of guardianship/conservatorship
  • Uniform Counsel Certification Form (CCF 4/07)

Fees

Name Fee Unit
Formal probate petition filing fee $375 each
Formal probate surcharge fee $15 each
Formal probate citation fee $15 each

How to file

Once you have the required forms, you should file them at the correct Probate and Family Court. 

  • If the decedent lived in Massachusetts, you should file in the county where they lived at the time of death.
  • If the decedent didn't live in Massachusetts, you should file in any county where the decedent had property at the time of death.  You may need to file additional forms in the state where the decedent lived as well. 

Next steps

Serve the citation

After you file a formal petition with proper payment, the Registry of Probate will issue formal notice to the petitioner. The formal notice is called a citation. You'll need to serve a copy of the citation on all interested persons as stated in the Order of Notice and publish a copy in the newspaper listed in the Order of Notice.  

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