Frequently Asked Questions

What does a Public Administrator do?

The Public Administrator is appointed for the purpose of administering the estates of people who die without a will, leave property in the Administrator’s county, and have no known heirs in the Commonwealth. Even in cases where there are known heirs in Massachusetts, the heirs can defer to the Public Administrator to handle the administration of the decedent’s estate. We fill the same role as an Executor or a Personal Representative. We are charged with ensuring the deceased's assets are collected and protected, any claims against the decedent’s estate are discharged, and the decedent’s assets are distributed to the rightful heirs.

When would I need a Public Administrator?

When heirs of a decedent are in other states, it may be difficult to handle the estate administration from a distance.  Often, when the deceased was elderly, the heirs may be elderly as well and may not have the energy or inclination to deal with the estate. In those cases, it may be a distant cousin, who will not benefit from the estate, that is “handed the reins” by the family. A person with no interest in the estate may not wish to take on the responsibility - and liability - personally and may wish, instead, to utilize our services.

But it’s not always family. Often, decedents with no will and no heirs leave real estate or other assets which will go to waste if not properly cared for. Real estate developers, investors, and others may wish to have an opportunity to obtain these assets from the estate, but cannot do so until the estate is opened. Landlords may have tenants who die with no known family (or any interested parties). In cases like these, a Public Administrator can be appointed to oversee the estate and ensure the assets are consolidated and protected for the heirs.

Similarly, creditors - secured and unsecured - including mortgage holders, holders of other liens, unsecured creditors, funeral homes, hospitals, and MassHealth can all request the services of the Public Administrator.

How are Public Administrators chosen?

Public Administrators are elected to five-year terms by the Governor of Massachusetts. Each county has at least one, and may have up to five - six in Middlesex and Suffolk Counties. If you do not see your county listed on this page, please feel free to contact us and we can give you contact information for a Public Administrator in the appropriate county.

How can I find a Public Administrator?

If you feel you may need the services of a Public Administrator - or if you are unsure and do not know how to proceed - please feel free to talk to us now. If we do not service the county of the decedent, we can give you the contact information of a Public Administrator in that county.