In April 2012, the much anticipated Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code (MUPC) went into effect. The new law dramatically changed the landscape of trust and estate work in the Commonwealth. The BBA Trust & Estates Section, along with the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Probate and Family Court have worked tirelessly to create a smooth transition for practitioners, the courts and pro se litigants.
Working in partnership – a multifaceted approach was designed with the input of Chief Justice Paula M. Carey and her staff. The centerpiece of the program is the MUPC Resource Desk. Eight desks, being staffed once or twice a week have been set up across the state in various Probate & Family Courts Registries. Since April, 49 attorneys have volunteered at the Resource Desks. They have assisted 154 individuals including other attorneys, court staff and members of the community by answering questions about the MUPC. The Section also chose to use the BBA Trusts & Estates Section blog to highlight particular aspects of the new law and respond to questions lawyers may pose.
Beyond the Billable reached out to two volunteers to find out what it means to volunteer at a Resource Desk.
Peter Shapland, Co-Chair of the BBA Trusts & Estates Section Public Service Committee, Day Pitney LLP
I volunteer at the MUPC Resource Desk for at least two important reasons. First, it provides me an opportunity to offer some of my time and knowledge as a public service, to both the Probate Courts and persons of limited means using the Courts. Second, it gives me the opportunity to represent the BBA, confirming its own focus on public service.
The MUPC represents the most significant single statutory change in the history of the Massachusetts Probate Courts, and that change has come at a time of limited resources for the Courts. The Resource Desk offers some assistance to the Court staff, and to the public, in adapting to the new rules brought by the MUPC.
Allison Cleveland, Day Pitney LLP
Volunteering allows me to do service (which all lawyers should do!), but in this particular area, it benefits me in a more tangible way as well. Each time I’ve volunteered, I’ve encountered questions that prompted me to learn more about the new law, keep my own skills sharp, and determine how the courts will be handling numerous issues under the MUPC. It’s a win-win situation!
The courts are struggling with staff cuts, reduced hours and minimal budgets. The new law, although an improvement, adds to their burden. To the extent that lawyers who have been trained on the MUPC can help, everyone will benefit.
If you are interested in learning more about the MUPC Resource Desk or would like to volunteer, please contact Stephanie Lee, Public Service Programs Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.