Massachusetts Probate Form MPC963

Instructions For Petition For Formal Probate

Everything you need to know about Massachusetts Form MPC963, including helpful tips, fast facts & deadlines, how to fill it out, where to submit it and other related MA probate forms.

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About Instructions For Petition For Formal Probate

There are all sorts of forms executors, beneficiaries, and probate court clerks have to fill out and correspond with during probate and estate settlement, including affidavits, letters, petitions, summons, orders, and notices.

Instructions For Petition For Formal Probate is a commonly used form within Massachusetts. Here’s an overview of what the form is and means, including a breakdown of the situations when (or why) you may need to use it:

Helpful instructions on how to file for formal probate with or without a will. (3/1/16)

Atticus Fast Facts About Instructions For Petition For Formal Probate

Sometimes it’s tough to find a quick summary— here’s the important details you should know about Instructions For Petition For Formal Probate:

  • This form pertains to the State of Massachusetts

Government forms are not typically updated often, though when they are, it often happens rather quietly. While Atticus works hard to keep this information about Massachusetts’s Form MPC963 - Instructions For Petition For Formal Probate up to date, certain details can change from time-to-time with little or no communication.

How to file Form MPC963

Step 1 - Download the correct Massachusetts form based on the name and ID if applicable

Double check that you have both the correct form name and the correct form ID. Some Massachusetts probate forms can look remarkably similar, so it’s best to double, even triple-check that you’re using the right one! Keep in mind that not all States have a standardized Form ID system for their probate forms.

Step 2 - Complete the Document

Fill out all relevant fields in Form MPC963, take a break, and then review. Probate and estate settlement processes in MA are long enough to begin with, and making a silly error can push your timeline even farther back. No thank you!

Note: If you don’t currently know all of the answers and are accessing Form MPC963 online, be sure to avoid closing the browser tab and potentially losing all your progress (or use a platform like Atticus to help avoid making mistakes).

Step 3 - Have Form MPC963 witnessed or notarized (if required)

Some States and situations require particular forms to be notarized. If you have been instructed to get the document notarized or see it in writing on the document, then make sure to hire a local notary. There are max notary fees in the United States that are defined and set by local law. Take a look at our full guide to notary fees to make sure you aren’t overpaying or getting ripped off.

Step 4 - Submit Instructions For Petition For Formal Probate to the relevant office

This is most often the local probate court where the decedent (person who passed away) is domiciled (permanently resides) or the institution involved with this particular form (e.g. a bank). Some offices allow you to submit forms online, other’s don’t, and we while we generally recommend going in-person to expedite the process, sometimes that simply isn’t an option.

It’s also a generally good idea to establish a positive working relationship with any probate clerk (unfortunately there’s enough people & process out there making things more difficult and unnecessarily confusing for them), so a best practice is to simply ask the probate clerk proactively exactly how and where they’d prefer you to submit all forms.

Need help getting in touch with a local probate court or identifying a domicile probate jurisdiction?

👉 Find and Contact your Local Probate Court

👉 What is a Domicile Jurisdiction?

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When Instructions For Petition For Formal Probate is due

Different probate forms or processes can require different deadlines or response times for completing the appropriate form.

While some steps in the process are bound to specific deadlines (like petitioning for probate, having to submit an inventory of assets, or filing applicable notices to creditors and beneficiaries), many probate forms or processes are not tied to a specific deadline since the scope of work can vary based on situational factors or requirements involved.

Either way, there are a bunch of practical reasons why personal representatives should work to complete each step as thoroughly and quickly as possible when completing probate in Massachusetts.

5 reasons you should submit MPC963 as quickly as possible:

  1. The sooner you begin, the faster Massachusetts can allow heirs and beneficiaries to get their share of assets subject to probate. Acting promptly can also decrease the costs & overall mental fatigue through an otherwise burdensome process.

    Helpful Context: What’s the Difference Between Probate and Non-Probate Assets?

  2. In general, creditors of an estate usually have around 3-6 months from the time you file notice to creditors to file any claims for debt against the deceased’s assets. If they don’t, then that debt is forfeited (and more importantly, the executor won’t be held personally responsible). So doing this sooner means you have a better idea of who is owed what and ensures you won’t get a surprise collector months later.

  3. Not filing a will within 30 days (on average) could mean that the probate process proceeds according to intestate laws (laws that govern what happens to someone's stuff without a will) or is subject to unnecessary supervision by the probate court. And if you aren't directly related to the deceased (a.k.a. next of kin), this could also mean you lose your inheritance.

  4. It’s important to file any necessary state tax returns on behalf of the deceased or estate by the following tax season in Massachusetts. If you don’t, you could owe penalties and interest. This also includes any necessary federal tax returns such as Forms 1040, 1041, or even a Form 706 estate tax return.

  5. If a house in the State of Massachusetts is left empty (or abandoned) for a while, insurance can get dicey. For example, if the house burns down and no one has been there for a year, an insurance company may get out of paying your claim.

If you’re not using Atticus to get specific forms, deadlines, and timelines for Massachusetts probate, then try and stay as organized as possible, pay close attention to the dates mentioned in any correspondence you have with the State’s government officials, call the local Massachusetts probate clerk or court for exact answers regarding Form MPC963, and when in doubt— consult a qualified trust & estates lawyer for that area.

How to Download, Open, and Edit Form MPC963 Online

Instructions For Petition For Formal Probate is one of the many probate court forms available for download through Atticus.

It may also be available through some Massachusetts probate court sites, such as . In order to access the latest version, be updated with any revisions, and get full instructions on how to complete each form, check out the Atticus Probate & Estate Settlement software or consider hiring a qualified legal expert locally within Massachusetts.

While Atticus automatically provides the latest forms, be sure to choose the correct version of Form MPC963 - Instructions For Petition For Formal Probate f using any other site or resource in order to avoid having to re-complete the form process and/or make another trip to the Massachusetts probate court office.

Instructions For Petition For Formal Probate is a .pdf, so opening it should be as simple as clicking “View Form” from within the Atticus app or by clicking the appropriate link found on any Massachusetts-provided government platform. Once you’ve opened the form, you should be able to directly edit the form before saving or printing.

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Did you know?

  • Form MPC963 - Instructions For Petition For Formal Probate is a probate form in Massachusetts.

  • Helpful instructions on how to file for formal probate with or without a will. (3/1/16)

  • Massachusetts has multiple types of probate and the necessary forms depend on the unique aspects of each estate, such as type and value of assets, whether there was a valid will, who is serving as the personal representative or executor, and even whether or not they also live in Massachusetts.

  • During probate, all personal representatives and executives in are required to submit a detailed inventory of assets that must separate non-probate assets from probate assets.

  • Probate in Massachusetts, especially without guidance, can take years to finish and cost upwards of $14,000.

Frequently Asked Questions about Instructions For Petition For Formal Probate

Helpful instructions on how to file for formal probate with or without a will. (3/1/16)

Probate is the government’s way of making sure that when a person dies, the right stuff goes to the right people (including the taxes the government wants).

All of that stuff is collectively known as someone’s “estate”, and it’s the job of the executor or personal representative to fill out all the forms and complete all the required steps to formally dissolve the estate. 

To get instant clarity on the entire probate process and get an idea of the steps, timeline, and best practices, read the Atticus Beginner’s Guide to Probate

The best place? Create an account in Atticus to start getting estate-specific advice. 

You may need a lawyer, you may not, and paying for one when you didn’t need it really hurts. Atticus makes sure you make  the best decisions (plus you can write it off as an executor expense).

We’ve also created a list of other probate services. Be sure to check it out!

An executor is named in someone’s will, and if the deceased didn’t have a will, then the spouse or other close family relative usually steps up to fulfill the role. If no one wants to do it, then a judge will appoint someone. 

The executor is responsible for the complete management of the probate process, including major responsibilities such as:

  • Creating an inventory of all probate assets.

  • Filling out all necessary forms

  • Paying off all estate debts and taxes

  • Submitting reports to the court and beneficiaries as requested

And much more. This process often stretches longer than a year. 

For an idea of what separates executors who succeed from those who make this way harder than it should be, visit our article, Executors of an Estate:
What they do & secrets to succeeding

The Exact Text on Form MPC963

Here’s the text, verbatim, that is found on Massachusetts Form MPC963 - Instructions For Petition For Formal Probate. You can use this to get an idea of the context of the form and what type of information is needed.

1 MPC 963 (3/1/16) INSTRUCTIONS FOR FORMAL PROBATE WITH OR WITHOUT A WILL These general instructions are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Please consult an attorney if you have specific questions. Court staff cannot provide legal advice or assist you with legal decisions. GENERAL INFORMATION Formal probate matters are typically heard by a judge and may involve one or more hearings before the court. The court may accept a formal petition to: 1) admit the decedent’s will to formal probate and determine the heirs; 2) determine that the decedent died without a will and determine the heirs; 3) appoint personal representative to administer the estate, including a person designated as a public administrator, in a supervised or unsupervised administration; 4) appoint a special personal representative pending the appointment of the personal representative in the formal proceeding. In addition to the above, the petitioner may request as part of the formal proceeding that the court: 5) set aside an informal probate of a will; 6) prevent informal probate of a will which is the subject of a pending petition; or 7) confirm a prior informal appointment in a testate or intestate estate. Formal probate may be required for several reasons, including if:  informal probate is unavailable;  the original will is lost, destroyed or otherwise unavailable;  the will has handwritten words added (interlineations) or crossed out (deletions);  there is no official death certificate;  the location or identity of any heir or devisee is unknown;  the person to be appointed personal representative does not have priority for appointment by statute or by renunciation and/or nomination;  an heir or devisee is an incapacitated or protected person or a minor and is not represented by a conservator or is only represented by a guardian who is also the petitioner;  the personal representative to be appointed is an interested person solely due to his or her status as a creditor or as a public administrator;  the estate of a since deceased heir or devise is not represented by a personal representative;  supervised administration is necessary;  a judge must sign an order or decree for any reason. ALERT: A determination of heirs and an adjudication of testacy are made only in a formal probate proceeding. 2 MPC 963 (3/1/16) FILING FEES The total fee required to file a formal petition is $405.00. The fee is broken down as follows: $375 for the filing of the formal petition including all required forms/documents, a $15.00 surcharge to assign a docket number, and a $15.00 citation fee. The filing fee of $405.00 includes the initial appointment bond, citation, and initial court issued Letters of Authority but does not include publication costs. The total fee to file a formal petition by a Public Administrator is $130.00. The fee is broken down as follows: $100.00 for the filing of the petition, a $15.00 surcharge to assign a docket number, and a $15.00 citation fee. The filing fee of $130.00 includes the initial appointment bond, citation, and the initial court issued Letters of Authority, but does not include publication costs. OTHER FEES The following court fees are optional and will only be assessed upon request: □ Additional Letters of Authority = $25 each □ Copy, attested = $2.50 per page; □ Copy, unattested = $1.00 per page COMMON TERMS Docket Number: The number the court assigns to your case. Petitioner: Interested persons identified by Massachusetts law who can file a petition. Decedent: The person who died. Heirs at Law: Persons entitled to receive the decedent’s property under the intestacy succession laws if there is no will. Devisees: Persons, entities, charitable organizations, or trusts designated in a will to receive the decedent’s personal or real property. In the case of a devise to an existing trust or trustees, or to a trustee or trust established by the will, the trust or trustee is the devisee and the beneficiaries are not devisees. Probate Estate: All of the real and personal property the decedent owned in his or her name alone on the date of death that is subject to probate. Interested Persons: Persons identified by Massachusetts law who can file a petition and who also must be notified of a court proceeding. The term may include a surviving spouse, children, heirs at law, devisees, creditors, fiduciaries representing interested persons and persons having priority for appointment as personal representative, depending on the circumstances. Intestate: An estate in which the decedent did not leave a will. Testate: An estate in which the decedent did leave a will. Letters of Authority: A document issued by the court evidencing the personal representative’s authority to act. Nominee: The person seeking to be appointed personal representative. Personal Representative: A person at least 18 years of age who has been appointed to administer the estate of the decedent. FORMS There are several forms that need to be completed before a will can be formally probated and/or a personal representative appointed. Forms may be obtained: 1) from the registry in each county Probate and Family Court; or 2) from the MUPC Hub located on the Probate and Family Court’s website at 3 MPC 963 (3/1/16) You may complete a form online and print or you may print the form and type or print legibly in black or blue ink. The following court approved forms and documents must be filed depending on whether the decedent died with a will (testate) or without a will (intestate): 4 MPC 963 (3/1/16) STEPS TO FILING YOUR CASE STEP 1: Complete All Forms You must complete all applicable sections of each form. If you are unsure how to complete a form, see the Instructions associated with that form or see the MUPC Estate Administration Procedural Guide located at □ Petition for Formal Probate of Will/Adjudication of Intestacy/Appointment of Personal Representative (MPC 160)  Complete all applicable sections of this form.  Pay careful attention to the caption. Put an “X” next to “Original Form” if this is the first time you are filing this form; put an “X” next to “Amended Form” if you have previously filed this form with the court and are now changing the information. NOTE: A formal petition may be amended as a matter of right prior to an appearance being filed before 10:00 a.m. on the return day. Thereafter, a motion must be filed requesting court approval along with an amended petition. See Rule 7 of the Supplemental Rules of the Probate and Family Court. ALERT: The petitioner must certify on the petition that the petitioner gave notice once by citation to the Division of Medical Assistance. To do so, the petitioner shall send a copy of the citation when issued by the court together with a copy of the petition and death certificate by certified mail at least fourteen (14) days before the return day to the Division of Medical Assistance, Estate Recovery Unit. As of the time of this publication, the address is P. O. Box 15205, Worcester, MA 01615-0205. The Division of Medical Assistance is NOT the court. For additional notice requirements, see Step 3 below. □ Surviving Spouse, Children, Heirs at Law (MPC 162)  This form must be filed in ALL cases to identify a decedent’s surviving spouse, children and heirs at law.  Complete all applicable sections of this form. For line by line instructions, see the Instructions (MPC 958).  Failure to submit this form will result in a delay in processing your case. □ Devisees (MPC 163)  This form must be filed if the petitioner is seeking to probate the decedent’s will.  Complete all applicable sections of this form. For line by line instructions, see the Instructions (MPC 959).  Failure to submit this form will result in a delay in processing your case. □ Bond (MPC 801)  This form must be filed if the petitioner is requesting the appointment of a personal representative. No bond is necessary if the petitioner is requesting only to probate an original will. 5 MPC 963 (3/1/16)  If a bond with sureties is required, the petitioner must state the penal sum in a dollar amount. Failure to state a dollar amount subjects the sureties to unlimited liability.  Complete all applicable sections of this form. This form must be signed by the personal representative. □ Military Affidavit (MPC 470)  This form must be filed UNLESS the written assents and waivers of notice (MPC 455) of all interested persons are filed. □ Assent and Waiver of Notice/Renunciation/Nomination/Waiver of Sureties (MPC 455)  This form must be filed if the petitioner is requesting the appointment of a personal representative who does NOT have statutory priority for appointment and there is no need for a court hearing on that issue.  This form must be filed if the petitioner is seeking to waive sureties on the bond of a personal representative and any will filed for probate does not expressly waive such sureties.  This form may be filed to assent and waive notice by any interested person.  Complete all applicable sections of this form. For instructions, see the Instructions (MPC 941). □ Affidavit as to Cause of Death (MPC 475)  This form must be filed if the decedent’s cause of death is listed on the death certificate as “homicide” or “pending”. Other causes of death do not require the Affidavit. □ Affidavit of Witness to Will (MPC 480)  This form must be filed if evidence concerning the execution of a will is necessary. □ Affidavit of Domicile (MPC 485)  This form must be filed if the address of the decedent is incorrectly listed on the death certificate. □ Uniform Counsel Certification (CCF 407)  This form must be filed by the attorney for the petitioner, if represented. □ Decree and Order on Petition for Formal Adjudication (MPC 755)  This form must be filed in ALL cases prior to allowance.  The petitioner is required to complete all applicable sections in preparation for the court’s signature. STEP 2: Obtain Other Documents for Filing □ Certified Copy of the Death Certificate  A certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate must be filed.  Death certificates can be obtained from the Town Hall where the person was residing at the time of death or from the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics. For information, see of-vital-records.html.  If the decedent’s death certificate is unavailable, a certified or authenticated copy of a death certificate issued by an official or agency or a record or report of death by a governmental agency may be filed. The fact of death may be established by other evidence, including circumstantial evidence. 6 MPC 963 (3/1/16) □ Original Will  The original will must be filed if the decedent died with a will and the petitioner is offering the decedent’s last l will and any codicil(s) for probate.  If the original will is unavailable, a copy may be filed or a statement of its contents. ALERT: A formal petition must be filed to probate a copy of a will or a will with cancellations or interlineations. □ Proof of Guardianship/Conservatorship  If an heir or devisee is an incapacitated or protected person or a minor and is not represented by a conservator, or is only represented by a guardian who is the petitioner, the court must determine if a guardian ad litem is necessary. Minor children of the decedent do not require the appointment of a guardian or conservator UNLESS they are also an heir or devisee. The appointment of a guardian ad litem may be waived by the court upon a motion filed with the petition.  If a guardian or conservator is already appointed, the petitioner shall be required to present proof in the form of a docket number if appointed within the division in which the filing is being made or, if appointed from another division or from a court outside of Massachusetts, a certified copy of Letters of guardianship or conservatorship. □ Affidavit of Conservator  If a conservator of an incapacitated person, protected person or a minor also has an interest in the decedent’s estate as an heir or devisee, the conservator must file an affidavit stating specific facts to warrant a conclusion by the court that a conflict of interest does not exist between the conservator and person(s) represented.  Failure to submit an affidavit or to state sufficient facts to support the conclusion that a conflict of interest does not exist may result in the appointment of a guardian ad litem. □ Authenticated Copy of Will and Appointment  If a petitioner is offering a nonresident decedent’s last will and any codicil(s) for probate in Massachusetts, an authenticated copy of the will and an authenticated copy of the order, decree or judgment issued by the court where it was first probated must be filed. STEP 3: File Papers with the Court  Provide the court with the required forms and documents completed above and pay the filing fee.  The form and documents should be filed in the county Probate and Family Court where the decedent was domiciled at the time of death; OR if the decedent was not domiciled in Massachusetts, in any county where property of the decedent was located at the time of death.  For a listing of Massachusetts counties and the cities and towns within, see **Important Information – Please Read** Review all completed forms for accuracy prior to filing with the court. If you do not understand any form, do not sign it! Please consult an attorney for legal advice. Court staff cannot provide legal advice or assist you with legal decisions. STEP 4: Provide Citation Notice to Interested Persons and Notice by Publication □ Citation for Formal Adjudication (MPC 560)  After the filing of the petition, the court shall fix a return date and issue a citation. Review the Order of Notice carefully. Note: The return date listed in a citation is NOT a hearing date. It is the deadline date by which an 7 MPC 963 (3/1/16) interested party must file his or her written appearance if he or she wishes to contest a formal petition.  At least fourteen (14) days prior to the return day, the petitioner must provide a copy of MPC 560 either by in- hand delivery or by registered, certified or ordinary first-class mail to the following interested persons (unless they have assented and waived their right to notice by completing form MPC 455): 1) surviving spouse; 2) children*; 3) other heirs of the decedent; 4) devisees and executors named in any will that is being, or has been probated, or offered for informal or formal probate in the county, or that is known by the petitioner to have been probated, or offered for informal or formal probate elsewhere; 5) any devisee that is a charity; 6) any personal representative of the decedent whose appointment has not been terminated; 7) any other person; 8) a conservator or guardian appointed to represent an heir or devisee who is a minor, incapacitated or protected person and the person represented regardless of age; 9) the Attorney General of Massachusetts, if there is no spouse or heir of the decedent or any devisee is a charity; 10) any other person as the petitioner elects. ALERT: *Children must be given notice even if they are NOT an heir or devisee. □ Notice by Publication  The petitioner must also give notice by publication by publishing a copy of the citation once in a newspaper designated by the register of probate having general circulation in the county where the proceeding is pending, at least 7 days prior to the return date. □ Return of Service  The petitioner must file with the court the Return of Service stating the names of persons served, how served and the date of service. The petitioner must also include details regarding the publication. If a person entitled to notice has assented and waived their right to notice, the petitioner must include the written assent and waiver of notice (MPC 455). WHAT TO EXPECT NEXT  If the petition is uncontested, the court may enter appropriate orders after the return date on the strength of the pleadings if satisfied that all conditions are met or the court may conduct a hearing and require proof of the matters necessary to support the order sought.  If the petition is contested, the petitioner must file a Request for a Case Management Conference or other applicable form. The division’s judicial case manager may be consulted for further information regarding the scheduling of a hearing date.  Once approved or denied, a copy of the Formal Decree and Order will be provided to the petitioner by mail or in-person.  If a formal appointment has been approved, the registry shall be responsible for providing a copy of the Letters of Authority to the petitioner either in hand or by mail. WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION? A detailed description of each probate process can be found in the MUPC Estate Administration Procedural Guide: A Guide to Estate Administration Practices & Procedures in the Probate and Family Court, located at:

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