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News Nine Probate and Family Court Registers' Offices Operating Virtual Registries

9/03/2020
  • Probate and Family Court
  • Executive Office of the Trial Court
  • Massachusetts Court System

BOSTON, MANine Probate and Family Court Registers' Offices are now using Zoom videoconferencing to operate virtual registries to assist the public. On June 15, Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey and Probate and Family Court Chief Justice John D. Casey announced a virtual registries pilot program in Barnstable, Essex and Middlesex Counties. The success of the pilot program led to its expansion to the counties of Bristol, Hampden, Hampshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Worcester.

The pilot program, developed by Probate and Family Court Field Coordinator Keith Nalbandian, creates a virtual registry for Probate and Family Court matters using a recurring Zoom videoconference meeting link that operates during normal business hours when a host from a register's office is logged in. Virtual registries offer all of the assistance normally available during an in-person visit, including face-to-face contact, the ability to obtain and get assistance with court forms, and access to court documents and docket information.

Court users who enter the virtual registry are placed into a waiting room and appear as participants to the host, who admits individuals into the virtual registry. The host is able to answer general questions and send a participant into a pre-designated breakout room for additional assistance on more complex matters. Breakout rooms are staffed with registry employees, and if available, a lawyer with a Lawyer for the Day program, to answer questions. The breakout rooms are managed by the host, so as one guest leaves a room, another guest is able to enter. With the exception of Hampshire and Barnstable Counties, the virtual registries are available Monday through Friday.

In Hampshire County, the virtual registry is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In Barnstable County, on specific days during specific hours, there is a staff member available for a virtual meeting on Zoom by appointment. The virtual registry is open on Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Questions about Probate and Estate matters are scheduled for Wednesdays between 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Court users can call the registry to request a Zoom appointment.

In addition to virtual registries, members of the public can also reach Probate and Family Court Registers' Offices by phone or email. Contact numbers for individual courts and offices can be found online on the Courthouse Locator page. The public can also call the Trial Court Help Line to ask general questions about their cases and help them navigate the court system. The Help Line is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and can be reached by calling 1-833-91COURT.

More information about each county's virtual registry is available on the court system's website:

Probate and Family Court 

The Probate and Family Court Department handles matters involving families and children, like divorce, child support, and wills.

Executive Office of the Trial Court 

The Executive Office of the Trial Court facilitates communication and enables joint leadership of the Trial Court by the Chief Justice of the Trial Court and the Court Administrator.

Massachusetts Court System 

The Massachusetts court system consists of the Supreme Judicial Court, the Appeals Court, the Executive Office of the Trial Court, the 7 Trial Court departments, the Massachusetts Probation Service, and the Office of Jury Commissioner.
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