On April 1, 2020, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued an order regarding court operations and the exigent circumstances created by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The order is available for review here: https://www.mass.gov/doc/supreme-judicial-court-order-regarding-court-operations-under-the-exigent-circumstances-created/download
The order includes three provisions particularly relevant to underwriting and the issuance of title insurance policies. The provisions are identified in the order as numbered paragraphs 11, 12, and 13:
11. Statutes of limitation
All statutes of limitation are tolled from March 17, 2020, through May 3, 2020.
12. Deadlines set forth in statutes or court rules, standing orders or guidelines
Unless otherwise ordered by the applicable court, all deadlines set forth in statutes or court rules, standing orders, tracking orders, or guidelines that expired or will expire between March 16, 2020, and May 4, 2020, are tolled until May 4, 2020, and the new deadline in each instance is calculated as follows: determine how many days remained after March 16, 2020, until the original deadline, and that same number of days will remain as of May 4, 2020, until the new deadline. For example, if a rule set a thirty (30) day deadline and twelve (12) days remained after March 16 before that deadline was reached, then twelve (12) days will continue to remain as of May 4, before the new deadline is reached (i.e. May 18, because May 16 is a Saturday). If the thirty (30) day period commenced after March 16, then thirty (30) days remain as of May 4 before the new deadline is reached (i.e. June 3).
13. Court-ordered deadlines in particular cases
Unless otherwise specifically ordered by the applicable court, all deadlines established by a court in a particular case on or before March 16, 2020, that expire between March 16, 2020, and May 4, 2020, are tolled until May 4, 2020. To calculate the new deadline, see the guidance in paragraph 12. Probation termination dates are not tolled by this provision.
As a result of the order, you must take into account the tolling and deadline calculation as set forth in the Court’s order when determining the expiration of any deadlines (such as the time to file an appeal, or motion or a new trial) or the running of any statute of limitation which occurs after March 17, 2020.
This includes, without limitation, the following statutes:
- M.G.L c. 230, s. 66 relating to obsolete mortgages (5 years after stated maturity date or, if none, 35 years from date of recording)
- M.G.L. c. 190B, s. 3-803 relating to creditor claims against decedent’s estates (1 year from date of death)
- M.G.L. c. 236, s. 49A relating to executions (6 years from date of recording levy)
- M.G.L. c. 223, s. 114A relating to attachments (6 years from date of recording)
- M.G.L. c. 65C, s. 14 relating to MA estate taxes (10 years from date of death)
- M.G.L. c. 208, s. 21 relating to judgments of divorce (nisi period of 90 days from date of judgment)
- M.G.L. c. 119A, s. 6(b)(3) and (5) relating to child support liens
You should monitor the Court’s website to determine if the order is extended or further amended. The Court’s COVID-19 updates can be found here: https://www.mass.gov/guides/court-system-response-to-covid-19
If you have any questions relating to this or other bulletins, please contact your Massachusetts Underwriting team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-628-2988.
If you have any questions relating to this or other bulletins, please contact a Stewart Title Guaranty Company underwriter.
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