Estate Tax Liens

Releasing Estate Tax Liens

Real property in Massachusetts is subject to a lien for estate taxes upon the death of anyone who has a legal interest in the property.

For a majority of estates, there is no estate tax actually due, but unless a release of estate tax lien form is filed with the Registry of Deeds, there is a claim against the title of property owned by the decedent for ten years following his or her death.

The procedure for releasing the Massachusetts estate tax lien varies depending on whether an estate tax return is required and the date of death of the property owner.

  1. For all estates required to pay estate taxes: The standard method of obtaining a release of estate tax lien is to file an estate tax return (M-706) with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) and obtain from the DOR a Release of Estate Tax Lien Certificate, known as an M-792 certificate, which is then filed at the Registry of Deeds.
    Click here for link to  DOR Estate Tax Publications and Forms.
  2. Where the date of death is before January 1, 1997: A Massachusetts estate tax return and M-792 (see above) are required, even if no estate tax is owed.
  3. Where no return is required and the date of death is between January 1, 1997 and December 31, 2002: The estate tax lien may be released by filing at the Registry of Deeds a notarized affidavit that the gross estate of the decedent does not necessitate a Federal estate tax filing. In such cases the M-792 certificate is not required.
  4. Where no return is required and the rate of death is after December 31, 2002: The estate tax lien may be released by filing a notarized affidavit that the gross estate of the decedent does not necessitate a Massachusetts estate tax filing. In such cases the M-792 certificate is not required.
  5. Is an estate tax return required? For Massachusetts residents, whether an estate tax return is required depends on the gross estate value and the date of death of the decedent. (For nonresidents, there are other rules- contact an attorney or DOR.)

Through 2002, the Massachusetts gross estate valuation filing threshold was linked to the Federal estate tax. After 2002, the Massachusetts threshold was decoupled from the Federal, and the amounts shown beginning 2003 are Massachusetts’ which is lower than the Federal.

Form of affidavit: Affidavits filed to release the estate tax lien should include:

  • The decedent’s full name
  • The decedent’s date of death
  • The decedent’s residence (domicile) at the time of death
  • The title reference(s) of the decedent’s property in the County where the affidavit is to be filed
  • A statement that the gross estate of the decedent does not necessitate a Federal estate tax filing (dates of death between January 1, 1997, and December 31, 2002) or a Massachusetts estate tax filing (date of death after December 31, 2002)
  • A statement that affidavit is signed under the pains and penalties of perjury
  • The name and designation of the person signing the affidavit. (Examples of persons who may file the affidavit are: executor, administrator, spouse, surviving joint tenant or remainderman after a life estate)
  • The affiant’s signature needs to be acknowledged by a notary public
  • The recording fee for an affidavit is $75.50 for recorded land and $75.00 for registered land
  • A death certificate may be recorded with the affidavit. Separate recording fees ($75.50) apply for the death certificate

 Sample Affidavit where date of death is 1997-2002

Sample Affidavit where date of death is after 2002

This material is provided for informational purposes – Registry Personnel cannot prepare this affidavit for you. If you are not knowledgeable in this area, you should consult an attorney, tax professional, or the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.

Gross Estate Value Which Requires An Estate Tax Return
1997 (Federal) $600,000
1998 (Federal) $625,000
1999 (Federal) $650,000
2000 (Federal) $675,000
2001 (Federal) $675,000
2002 (Federal) $1,000,000
2003 (MA) $700,000
2004 (MA) $850,000
2005 (MA) $950,000
2006 and thereafter (MA) $1,000,000

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