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Is the Term “Interested Person” Meant to Be Broadly Defined under Massachusetts Guardianship and Conservatorship Law?

April 9, 2015

In the case of Guardianship of B.V.G., decided on April 6, 2015, the Massachusetts Appeals Court took a look at the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code (“MUPC”) to determine whether a grandfather was an interested person who had standing in the guardianship proceedings. The child’s father was objecting to the grandfather’s involvement in the guardianship case.

The term “interested person” in M.G. L. c. 190B, § 1-201(24), the general definition section of the MUPC, “includes heirs, devisees, children, spouses, creditors, beneficiaries, and any others having a property right in or claims against a trust estate or the estate of a decedent, ward, or protected person.  It also includes persons having priority for appointment as personal representative, and other fiduciaries representing interested persons.  The meaning as it relates to particular persons may vary from time to time and shall be determined according to the particular purposes of, and matter involved in, any proceeding.”

The Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled that the terms “interested person,” found in one part of the law, and “person interested in the welfare of the incapacitated person,” found elsewhere in the law, were equivalent.  The MUPC, according to the Court, favors “limited guardianships in order to maximize the liberty and autonomy of persons subject to guardianship,” and [a]llowing a broader class of individuals than those with economic interests to press for limitations on a guardianship furthers that goal.”  Thus, the phrase “interested person” is meant to broadly defined under Massachusetts guardianship and conservatorship law.

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