Do I Really Need a Will? (and for that matter why have an attorney make one?)
Many people and families engage in careful estate planning; however there also are a good number of people who choose, either purposely or inadvertently, to make no financial or legal arrangements for their property following their deaths. Sometimes individuals do not want to consider his or her own death, feels they have modest property and it’s not necessary, or simply does not take the time to consider all available options. As a result, the Massachusetts legislature, as is the case in most states, has passed laws that govern how an individual’s assets are distributed following death in the event that he or she dies “intestate”, or passes away without a will. Therefore, without a will the state will make these decisions for you. These intestacy laws also determine the procedures for administering an estate in this situation, including the fact that Massachusetts probate courts become responsible for administering your estate. The fees for this process will be passed to your heirs.This is now quite complex,
Married without Children
- If there are no surviving children or descendants of children, the spouse will receive the surviving spouse receives 100% of the estate.
- If there are no surviving children but a parent of the decedent survives the decedent, the spouse will receive the first $200,000 plus three quarters of any balance of the intestate estate. The rest would go the parent.
Married with Child or Children
- If all of the children are from the marriage between the decedent and the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse receives 100% of the estate.
- If all of the decedent’s surviving descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse and the surviving spouse has one or more surviving descendants who are not descendants of the decedent, the surviving spouse will inherit the first $100,000 plus one half of any balance of the intestate estate.
- If one or more of the decedent’s surviving descendants are not descendants of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse will receive the first $100,000 plus one half of any balance
- .If all of the children are from the marriage between the decedent and the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse receives 100% of the estate.
Order of estate distribution if Spouse Survives
2) Children and the descendants of those children
4) Siblings and their descendants
5) Next of kin (If there are two or more collateral kin in equal degree claiming through different ancestors,those claiming through the nearest ancestor will be preferred. Degrees of kindred shall be computed according to the rules of civil law)
- No spouse survives (or the deceased was single) but there are other relatives
See numbers 2 through 5 above.
- No surviving relatives
If there are no surviving relatives, the estate will go to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts unless the deceased is a veteran who died while a member of the Soldiers’ Home in Massachusetts or the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke; in that case, the estate will go to the benefit of the legacy fund or legacy account of the soldiers’ home of which he was a member.
Whether you have a beloved pet or another issue that needs to be part of your estate plan, you need an attorney who can provide you the help necessary to create an estate plan that is right for you and your family. Taking this step will alleviate problems with your assets in the future, which can be costly, time-consuming, and complex. At Tramontozzi Law Offices, in Melrose we are happy to help you through any situations that may arise as you work through the estate planning process.
Related Material for further reading:
Why you should update your Estate Plan: http://tramontozzilaw.com/why-you-should-revise-your-estate-plan/
The Probate Process Explained in Simple Steps http://tramontozzilaw.com/probate-process-explained-simple-steps/
Best Ways to Avoid Probate http://tramontozzilaw.com/best-ways-avoid-probate/
State link https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartII/TitleII
Title II Chapter 190, Descent and Distribution of Real and Personal Property
State Legislature: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartII/TitleII/Chapter190B/ArticleII/Section2-102