Massachusetts Supplemental Probate and Family Court Rule 6: Citations: Return Days; Service; Publication
A. Return Days. All citations shall be made returnable not later than three months after the date of such citation except as otherwise provided by statute. Every day when a court session is scheduled in the city or town where the registry is located shall be a return day for probate citations. A return day is not a hearing date, but a date by which an interested person must file his or her appearance to contest a probate proceeding.
B. Extension of the Return Day. There shall be only one return day outstanding, and no return day shall be changed or extended before the return day unless it is certified in writing by the party or his or her attorney that no service has been made on the original citation. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if counsel is appointed to represent an alleged incapacitated person, incapacitated person, person to be protected, protected person, minor or ward at any point prior to the entry of a decree on the petition, the court may provide a separate date by which said counsel may file an appearance and objection.
C. Service within the Commonwealth. Except where otherwise required by statute or ordered by the court, service of a citation within the Commonwealth shall be given by delivering in hand or by mailing by certified, registered or ordinary first class mail at least fourteen (14) days before the return day.
D. Service outside the Commonwealth. Except where otherwise required by statute or ordered by the court, if it shall appear from the petition that there is anyone interested who is outside the Commonwealth in any part of the United States, its Commonwealths or territories, service of the citation shall be given by delivering in hand or by mailing by certified, registered or ordinary first class mail at least fourteen (14) days before the return day; if in other parts, one (1) month.
E. Service. When Whereabouts Unknown. Except where otherwise required by statute or ordered by the court, if it shall appear from the petition that there is anyone interested who is of parts unknown, service of the citation shall be given by delivery or mailing to the last known address at least one (1) month before the return day.
F. Service by Publication. Except where otherwise required by statue or ordered by the court, and in addition to the service requirements above, publication shall be required if any interested person's whereabouts, address or identity is unknown. Publication shall also be required in all formal testacy and appointment proceedings. A copy of the citation shall be published once in a newspaper designated by the register of probate having general circulation in the county where the proceeding is pending at least seven (7) days before the return date.
Added December 14, 2011, effective January 2, 2012.
Reporter's Notes (2012): The rule was amended as a result of the enactment of the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code, G. L .c. 190B and clarifies service within and without the Commonwealth as well as when publication is required.