Legatee: Enforcement Rights
It is provided in G.L.c. 197, §19 that a legatee may recover his legacy at any time with no limitation as to when he may enforce his rights. However, the statute states that "the real estate of the testator shall not be liable to be sold for the payment of a legacy by the executor or other representative of the estate either under a power in the will or under license or order of court in, or as a result of, such a proceeding unless it is filed in the probate court within six years from the testator's death." The statute was most recently amended in 1972, which reduced the period from twenty years to six years. The 1972 amendment also provided that in cases where the testator died before the amendment the legatee would have the following time period to pursue a claim against the real estate:
- Where the testator died within six years of the effective date, six years or until December 31, 1974, whichever is later.
- Where the testator died within twenty years of the effective date, twenty years from the date of death or December 31, 1974, whichever is earlier.