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Massachusetts Agencies

Jurisdiction of Probate Court in Suit to Quiet Title


The probate court has concurrent equity jurisdiction with the land court and the superior court in quiet title cases. Where a suit to remove a cloud on title was commenced in the Probate Court, and an objection was lodged by the defendant that the suit was pending in the wrong tribunal, our Appeals Court said:

[The defendant] claims that the Probate Court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over this dispute and that the judge should have transferred the matter to the Land Court for determination. We disagree. Under G.L.c. 185, §1(k), as amended by St.1987, c. 421, §2, the Land Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the Probate Court over '[a]ll cases and matters cognizable under the general principles of equity jurisprudence where any right, title or interest in land is involved, . . . except actions for specific performance of contracts.' See Tetrault v. Bruscoe, 398 Mass. 454, 458, 497 N.E.2d 275 (1986). As this case involves removal of a cloud on title, a matter 'cognizable under the general principles of equity jurisprudence' (G.L.c. 215, §6, as amended by St.1981, c. 616) the Probate Court properly exercised jurisdiction. See Lagasse v. Lagasse, 20 Mass.App.Ct. 911, 912-913, 478 N.E.2d 154 (1985); Cole v. Anciporch, 25 Mass.App.Ct. 975, 976, 520 N.E.2d 499 (1988).

The case is Suga v. Maum, 29 Mass.App.Ct. 733, 565 N.E.2d 793.